Studs: Boosting Horses’ Traction in Sporting Events

Take a look at how adding studs to horseshoes can help horses navigate less-than-ideal footing.

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Studs are used to provide added grip when horses work on natural turf or other muddy or potentially slippery surfaces. | Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse

Horses’ hooves are naturally designed to provide traction on a variety of surfaces. After all, the cougar looking for dinner doesn’t care whether the ground is muddy, the surface is as hard as a rock, or the incline is steep and sandy—horses need to get away from danger in any circumstance, after all.

There are some scenarios for domestic horses, however, in which extra traction is helpful: fox-hunting in snowy conditions, making a tight and quick turn on a jump course, or galloping downhill on a cross-country course, like world-class horses and riders will do on Saturday during the 2019 CCI5*-L Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event, presented by Mars Equestrian. In these situations, riders often use studs—small pieces of metal that screw into the bottom of drilled and tapped horse shoes—to help their mounts keep their footing in hopes of preventing slip- or fall-related injuries.

Though studs might be small in size, they require substantial knowledge for proper use. Used incorrectly, they could result in equine, and even human, injury. So, we consulted a veterinarian and a farrier for tips on using studs and the risks that could accompany them

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Written by:

Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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