Studs are used in your horse's shoes to give added grip, primarily when the horse is working on grass. They are not just used when the going is wet! Hard ground can have poor cover and can become very greasy and slippery after just a little rain, as the water tends to sit on the surface, rather than soaking in. Studs can make the difference between your horses jumping confidently or, if studs are not used, him slipping and worrying about jumping.
If your horse slips a lot when working out, ask your farrier about fitting road studs.

How many stud holes?

It is common practice to have two stud holes per shoe, one at each heel of the shoe. Sometimes just one stud hole is used, on the outside heel of the shoe. You'll have to ask your farrier to put stud holes in your horse's shoes, so discuss your needs with him.

What are the advantages of using studs?
  1. They help reduce the risk of the horse slipping and falling
  2. They give the horse confidence when jumping
  3. They enable the rider to ride more positively eg around turns and circles as they are less worried about the horse slipping

And the disadvantages?

  1. The balance of the foot is altered, so it will hit the ground at a different angle and could cause twisting or jarring to the leg (although you can help the balance of the footfall by using two studs ie one in each heel)
  2. While it is safer to use two studs on each shoe, there is the potential for a horse to strike into himself, causing injury via the stud on the inside of the heel. If your horse moves very close then simply only ever use a small road stud on the inside.
  3. If you choose to use just one stud per shoe this stud must be placed on the outside heel. If the ground is hard, using just one stud is not advisable as severe twisting to the joint could well result.
  4. Your horse may shorten his stride if studs are used on hard ground. If you use studs, which are too big or uneven, you may well cause the horse's stride to become unlevel.

Should I use studs in practice and at competitions?

Yes, definitely! You need your horse to be confident - if he has schooled across country and slipped you cannot expect him to be 100% confident just because you've now remembered to put studs in! In any case, it will help you become more proficient at using studs if you use them for cross country practice and when show jumping or doing a dressage test on grass.

Which stud should I use?

You'll see a selection of studs at your saddler's shop. When choosing which ones to use you need to think about:
  1. ground conditions eg wet, dry, length of grass, type of soil
  2. horse's action and way of going



Remember that you can always ask your trainer for advice. 

Road studs - small

  1. use on hard ground
  2. use as the inside stud for horses that have a very close action

Road studs - large

  1. use in the horse's front shoes, as a pair, for hard or good going. It's good to have as small a stud as possible in the front shoes because the weight on the forehand is greater and there's more risk of strain.
  2. can also be used for the inside hind shoe (with a large outside stud if the going is slippery)

Small points

  1. for 'good going' or when the grass is longer and road studs do not cut through
  2. NOTE - these studs should not be used as an inside stud as they could cause serious injury to the opposite leg

Large studs

  1. eg large points or large blocks should only be used in wet going.
  2. injuries can easily be caused by large studs being used on the inside of shoes so consider, in very wet conditions, using large road studs on the inside and bigger studs on the outside.

Before the competition

  1. It's sensible to clean out any stud holes the day before your competition - then if you have any tricky bits of stone or debris to remove, you don't have the added pressure of competition time ticking away. You'll need a sharp nail to remove any dirt or stones - but use it carefully!
  2. Spray WD40 into the stud hole
  3. Use your stud tap to clean the threads. You should be able to turn the tap easily - if this is not the case then it is not in properly and you could be damaging the threads.
  4. Once the stud hole has been cleaned, plug the hole with cotton wool soaked in baby oil or one of the plugs you can buy in packets from saddlers.

Fitting the studs

  1. Remove the plug. Hopefully, you've cleaned the stud hole the day before, if not, do so. Spray the hole with WD40.
  2. Insert the stud - it should go in easily. If not, you may have cross-threaded it. Initially, screw the stud in manually, and then tighten with the stud tap or a spanner.

 Do's and Don'ts 

  1. Do not walk on concrete if your horse has studs in.
  2. Remove studs after use.
  3. Plug the stud holes as before.
  4. Clean your studs after use and spray them with WD40 to stop them from rusting.
Read more advice on keeping your horses feet healthy