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About Horseshoe Studs

Horseshoe studs can be screwed into a horse's shoes to provide extra traction. For horseshoe studs to be used, a farrier must first prepare the horse's shoes by drilling and then tapping holes into the heels and occasionally the toes of the horseshoes. In the United States, these holes are typically 3/8" in diameter.

Riders and carriage drivers may use horseshoe studs if they're faced with footing challenges, such as grass or mud, to help their horses get extra grip in their footing. Horseshoe studs fall into several main categories, as outlined here.

Road Studs - Sometimes referred to as Flat Studs, tend to be short and flat as they're designed for use on flat surfaces where a horse needs a bit of extra grip, such as paved roads and trails that are packed hard. Typically, they have four or six sides.

Grass Studs - In comparison to road studs, grass studs tend to be longer, narrower and sharper as they're designed to be used on grassy footing or in sand arenas. Their pointy shape allows them to bite through hard, grass-covered ground.

Mud or Deep Footing Studs - Mud studs are also bigger than road studs. They are used on very soft or wet surfaces on which deep traction is desired, and they come in various shapes. They're designed to dig through the top layer of mud to get to solid footing.

Note: If you're new to using horseshoe studs, Dover Saddlery product advisors suggest that you consult your horse's veterinarian and farrier before you put studs on your horse's feet. Use of studs in combination with some hoof and leg conditions is not recommended. You should also consult your trainer or a knowledgeable friend who is familiar with your horse regarding the best type of stud to use for any situation.

Tip: Ask your farrier or a knowledgeable trainer to teach you how to insert and remove horseshoe studs. Practice the procedure at home, and learn how your horse moves with studs in place, before your competition, so that you do not have to learn under pressure.

Selecting Horseshoe Studs
Many factors go into the selection of horseshoe studs. A horse's specific needs or preferences are taken into account as some horses move differently when studs are in place. Every rider has a different opinion of the effectiveness of studs in combination with how his or her horse moves in them. The type of footing, type of riding and riding level also impact stud selection. Too much grip is stressful to the tendons of a horse's legs and can be detrimental to their performance. If you don't have a trainer to assist you with stud selection, then start with the small road studs and increase the size or type from there if needed.

Tip: If your horse is sliding during turns, some riders will consider the inside/outside placement of studs. To assist with turns, they will insert larger studs on the outside of the shoes and smaller ones, or none, on the inside of the shoes.

Most riders who require the use of horseshoe studs have an assortment on hand to accommodate the varying types of footing they encounter in competition, and a few extras of each type in case a stud is lost. A variety of tools and accessories are available to help you insert and remove studs, maintain the threads in the holes and care for studs to ensure maximum usage, as described in "Steps for Using Horseshoe Studs" below. A fully assembled Stud Kit with tools and a selection of studs is available.

Steps for Using Horseshoe Studs

1) Ask your farrier to drill and tap holes into your horse's shoes. He may require that you provide him with a Tee Tap. Have rubber, cotton or foam plugs on hand so that they can be inserted as soon as the holes are made in the horseshoes.

Plugs and blanks protect the threads so your studs fit optimally and save you a lot of time in cleaning the stud holes when you're ready to insert studs.

2) When it is time to use studs, remove the plugs with a sharp tool, such as the pointy end of Stud Hole Cleaner; remove blanks if you've used them with a blank wrench, which is also called a hexagonal or Allen wrench.

3) Use the bristled end of the Stud Hole Cleaner to remove debris in the stud hole. You can sharpen the threads in the stud holes using any of a variety of taps. Insert the tap into the hole and twist it. The Safety Spin Tee Tap has a unique design that stops the tool from going too deeply to reach the sole of the hoof, and is designed to protect the horse's foot if it slams a hoof down during the process. Standard tee taps are shaped like a "T" to fit in your hand for turning.

4) Making sure each stud is level, hand-tighten and then firm up the connections using a wrench such as the Bionic Stud Wrench. A Stainless Steel Magnetic Dish is a handy tool to keep your studs corralled during the insertion or removal process.

Tip: If you're at a competition that lasts several days, the magnetic bowl can hold your selection of studs throughout so that you don't have to sort back through your supply on the subsequent day.

5) After your ride, remove the studs as soon as possible and refill the holes with plugs. Your horse should not wear studs overnight or for long periods of time between classes. Again, a magnetic dish prevents the loss of your studs. The bristled end of the Stud Hole Cleaner is helpful for brushing dirt off the studs.

6) Unless cleaned and lubricated, studs rust easily during storage. To save yourself the time and hassle of having to remove rust from your studs with a wire brush before the next use, clean them with Stud Suds and dry them thoroughly.

Do's and Don'ts for Horseshoe Studs:

  • Do choose the smallest studs that will suffice for the occasion.
  • Do insert studs just before you need them and remove them as soon as possible afterward.
  • Do put protective horse boots on your horse when he's wearing studs, and use a belly guard or stud guard if the jumps are big.
  • Don't put studs on a horse that is showing signs of lameness.
  • Don't turn a horse out to pasture while he's wearing studs.
  • Don't put a horse on a trailer or leave it unattended while it is wearing studs.