A Practical Guide to Using Horseshoe Studs
by: Sian Simon
Studs, Caulks or Calks are metal devices that are screwed or driven into the bottom of your horse’s shoes. By protruding from the bottom of the shoe, they can help to provide traction over muddy or deep footing, such as sand, and help your horse jump more confidently.
Before using studs, holes are “tapped,” or drilled, into both heels, and sometimes the toes, of the horse’s shoe. Obviously the size of the hole must accommodate the stud and generally in the US, farriers will tap a hole that supports a 3/8″ diameter stud. Therefore, unless you have a special requirement for a smaller hole, such as a pony with very small feet, you should try to stick with 3/8′ studs.
The first time you ride your horse with studs you should fit him with some small road studs and let him walk around unmounted for a while to get used to the new feeling (this does not mean turn him out in a field with studs in – horses should never be turned out in studs!)
Here are some simple rules for using studs. These relate to “screw-in” studs rather than “drive-in” studs because screw-in studs are by far the most commonly used types.
• ALWAYS use studs in pairs, with one on each side of the hoof.
• ALWAYS use small, blunt studs on the inside of your horse’s shoes. A large, pointed stud can injure
• ALWAYS put protective leg boots on your horse when riding in studs.
• ALWAYS put studs in just before you will be riding and remove them as soon as possible afterwards.
• ALWAYS use the smallest stud you can, considering the conditions. While slipping is dangerous for your horse, a little slipping is much better than jarring your horse’s legs with huge studs. Try to find a stud that allows a little slipping, but not so much that your horse’s balance will suffer. Studs should be selected that will sink fully into the ground; otherwise they will unbalance the foot.
• ALWAYS try to have someone help you by holding your horse when you are putting studs in, especially if you will be using a Tee Tap (see below).
• ALWAYS be very careful if you have a horse that is likely to kick out at other horses or people. If you have such a horse, try to limit the amount of time you use studs.
• NEVER turn your horse out with studs.
• NEVER leave your horse unattended in a stall with studs.
• NEVER trailer your horse with studs.
• NEVER use studs if your horse is lame.
• NEVER put yourself in a position where a horse with studs in can step on you. It is very easy to break a toe this way, even in riding boots.
Your Stud “Toolkit”
Ahead of time, you should assemble the following items:
• A selection of studs. Remember that depending on the footing, you might not use the same studs on the inside and outside of your horse’s shoes, or you could use different studs on the front than the back shoes (there is more on this subject at our website http://www.studsandstuff.com ).
• A horseshoe nail or some type of flat but pointed “pick” to remove stud plugs. Screwdrivers are generally not suitable as they tend to be too “fat” to fit between the plug and the shoe.
• A stud hole cleaner. This is used to remove any debris from the stud hole. Some people use the horseshow nail for this, but there are many specially-designed tools that will work faster.
• A tap of some type. This is used to clean and sharpen the edges of the threads your farrier drilled into the stud holes. There are many types on the market. The traditional type is a Tee Tap or T-Tap, so named because it is the shape of the letter “T”. Recently round “Safety” Taps have become available on the market. These are safer because if your horse steps down on a Tee Tap it can cause an injury whereas a Safety Tap is less likely to cause a problem because it is flat and shaped like a hoof. There are some self-tapping studs starting to come onto the market that should remove the need for a separate Tap, however it is still a good idea to keep a Tap on hand.
• A wrench. This is used to tighten and then remove the studs. You can use a regular adjustable wrench found in most toolkits, although over time the wrench may wear the edges of your studs, making them difficult to use. There are also a number of special wrenches made specifically for horse studs. Even if you use a purpose-made wrench, it is probably not a bad idea to have an adjustable one too.
• A box to keep everything in one place! Studs have a notorious “homing” instinct and will disappear at the smallest opportunity. If you don’t capture them in a box, you will never find them again next time you need them.
• Rags or a small sponge. For removing oil or grease from your studs (assuming you oiled and stored them correctly the last time you used them) Studs are definitely slippery when greasy and will jump on this opportunity as part of their escape plan!
The following items are also nice to have:
• A magnet for your arm or a magnetic dish. This is useful for keeping steel studs in one place while you work and will reduce the possibility of your studs escaping!
• Rubber or cotton plugs or blanks. Most people put plugs in their stud holes when they are not using studs. This keeps the holes clean. There are rubber and cotton plugs and also metal stud blanks. If you use cotton plugs, soak them in oil to prevent the holes rusting. Stud blanks are metal screw-in plugs. If you use these, you will also need a….
• Blank Wrench or Flat-Head Screwdriver. A Blank Wrench is an Allen Key and is inserted into the stud blank to screw the blank in and out of the stud hole. Some stud blanks are designed to be inserted and removed using a Flat Head Screwdriver instead of a Blank Wrench.
• Stud cleaner and lubricant. Your studs will last much longer if you clean and grease them after use. Many people wrap them in an oily rag for storage, or you can use a product such as WD-40. Pretty much anything that repels water will work. There are also specially made stud cleaners available on the market.
Putting Studs in
Ideally you should take a lesson from your farrier or trainer before attempting to put studs in yourself. Make sure you and your horse practice at home, until you can put them in and take them out easily, before using them at a competition.
If your horse has plugs in his stud holes you will need to remove these first with your horseshoe nail or other implement.
HINT: It is a good idea to take the plugs out, clean the holes and replace the plugs before you leave for a competition. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to remove a plug when you only have 10 minutes until you should be warming up your horse!
Next you will need to clean out the stud hole with whatever tool you have chosen. Make sure that you remove all traces of dirt and debris. Putting studs into dirty stud holes can ruin the threads on your horse’s shoes.
Then (unless you are using self-tapping studs) you will need to tap the stud hole with a Safety Tap or Tee Tap. Unless you have a very quiet, experienced horse and are experienced with studs, we recommend using a Safety Tap. Basically, you will place the end of the Tap into the stud hole and screw it into the hole. Another benefit of a Safety Tap is that you can’t screw the Tap in too far and potentially bruise your horse’s hoof, which is possible with a Tee Tap.
HINT: Self-tapping studs are a new option where the stud has a special thread that will clean the threads on your horse’s shoes as you insert it. Because they are new, these studs are more expensive than traditional studs, but as long as you don’t lose them, they could be a great timesaving investment.
Now you can insert the studs. Begin by screwing them in by hand and finally make them nice and tight with your wrench. Be sure that you don’t over-tighten them so that you can’t undo them after you finish riding!
When you are finished riding, remove the studs, plug the holes and store the studs in some form of oily rag or plastic bag with a water repellent – any kind of oil, grease or WD-40 will work. Make sure you keep some rags or a sponge on hand to wipe up the grease!
Put your studs back in their box – if you don’t they WILL escape!!!
And don’t forget to have a great ride!
For more information on types of studs and when to use them, please visit http://www.studsandstuff.com
|About The Author Sian Simon founded StudsAndStuff.com to provide information on using horseshoe studs. The site offers a wide range of studs and related accessories as well as information on how to select and use horseshoe studs. Please visit the site at http://www.StudsAndStuff.com Sian is the owner of Freirish Farm in Virginia and a lifelong horse owner.|
This article was posted on September 25, 2006