Studs for Traction

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Q: I will be foxhunting on a thoroughbred / Percheron cross this season in a hilly part of Virginia.  Do you recommend studs and if so, what size?

A: Because of the liability that goes with recommending studs and not being able to see the terrain for myself I can not recommend what size studs you should use. I will say it is generally better to have too little traction than too much.

You must make the decision on the size for yourself and I would suggest that you discuss this with your farrier and your veterinarian. Too large a stud can cause ligament, tendon and muscle damage as well as the breaking of bones. This is no simple decision to make.

You need to be sure to take extra time giving your horse a good slow warm-up on the flat when you have studs in. At least 5 - 10 minutes walking followed by a similar amount of time at an easy trot would suffice for most horses. If you ride to the hunt this would probably serve as your warm-up but if you haul over you will want to spend the extra time warming up to keep from breaking your horse down.

I would suggest that you begin with small studs for training and conditioning so you can get a feel of how secure your horse's footing feels. If he is still slipping then you increase the size. If he is not slipping at
all, stay with the smallest ones possible. Having said that, I think it would be safe for me to say that if I were riding your horse I might try road studs in the front shoes and tungsten tipped small grass studs behind.

Again--too little traction is far better than too much.

Developing the riding skill to balance your horse and of course having the horse trained well enough to let you balance it will go a long way towards allowing you to use smaller studs and doing less damage to the horse when you do use them!

Don't forget that any time you shoe for studs your farrier should put clips on the shoes. For most horses I use toe clips on the front feet and quarter clips on the hind. Without clips you are quite likely to leave your studs and shoes behind you from time to time which is not only quite inconvenient but will tear up your horse's hoof.

I hope this gives you some guidance. Be careful.

Geronimo Bayard
The American Blacksmith
Oakland, Oregon

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This entire web site is copyright protected.  1996-2001 Geronimo & Mary Bayard,  2001-2008 Mary Fitzpatrick
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