With yet another wet spring and summer predicted, any grass competition arena could potentially become a muddy and slippery mess. A tool you can use to give your horse confidence on slippery surfaces is to use studs. Studs are small metal protrusions that can be attached to your horse’s shoes, which will go deeper into the earth, giving your horse additional grip when moving at faster paces or turning.
Studs are made with a strong tungsten core which helps withstand the constant impact they undergo and come with a thread at one end which will you screw into pre-drilled holes at the back of each of your horse’s shoes. These holes are drilled by your farrier, so make sure you mention to your farrier that you would like stud holes put in before your next appointment. Until you are ready to put studs in, you can purchase rubber stud plugs or simply stuff cotton wool in each hole, which will prevent a buildup of mud.
Studs come in various shapes and sizes depending on what surface and conditions you are riding in:
- Road studs – Despite the name, these are not to be used on roads! A smaller, flatter stud that are suitable for dry grass surfaces where there is not as much risk of slipping.
- Bullet studs – A rounded, dome shaped stud that can be used on wet grass surfaces or slightly muddy conditions.
- Grass studs – A longer, pointier stud that will work best in very wet and deep, muddy conditions. A good tip when using this stud is to only use these on the outside of the shoe to avoid the horse standing on itself and creating a puncture wound. You can use a bullet stud of a similar size on the inside stud hole.
Many equestrian stores will sell individual studs as well as complete kits that contain a small number of stud sets as well as the tools required to install and remove them. You can purchase one of these kits or make your own, which should include:
- A stud cleaning tool, which has a pointy end to remove a stud plug or cotton wool from the stud hole, or a good alternative is a farrier’s nail. The cleaning tool will also have a steel brush at the other end which will help to remove any stubborn mud.
- A T-tap, which you can you use to clear out threads and prior to screwing in the studs
- An adjustable spanner is a handy tool to include in your kit, which will help you tighten all different shape and size studs.
- Cotton wool to replug your stud holes after your competition has finished.
WD-40 is useful to spray in the holes prior to and after using studs to prevent a rust buildup. You can also use it to clean your studs after wiping them with a damp cloth.
A good point to remember is that studs will prevent your horse from slipping and sliding, which if not used correctly, can impact the soft tissue structures through the leg, such as tendons and ligaments. It is best to speak to your farrier or coach prior to your competition to discuss if studs will be required and what size and type would be appropriate.
Written by Emma H.