Saturday, April 17, 2010

Using Studs

Some horses go well with the added traction of studs (little cleats that screw into horse shoes) while others are happier on good footing without them. The decision to use them in the show ring should be made based on the advice of your coach, taking into account the footing, your horse's movement, your horse's confidence and other factors. 

The key to using studs is to be prepared. That means having your horse shod with stud holes in all of the shoes. Some horses are able to compete perfectly well barefoot, but if you choose not to use shoes, you will need to control the footing. I have seen horses slip and fall while competing barefoot on damp grass and I do not wish that upon anyone. If you compete only on sand, you will probably be okay going barefoot. If there are any shows on grass, however, be prepared to scratch for the day if the footing looks less than ideal.

I always trailer without studs in and then make decisions about using them when I get to the horse show. This keeps the horse safe on the trailer because he won't step on himself with the studs, and it also allows me to make a more informed decision about which studs to use by seeing and walking on the footing first.

It's a good idea to always bring a stud kit along with you to every show, whether you think you will need them or not. It's not always easy to predict bad footing and it doesn't hurt to bring them along just in case. You don't need to have every stud imaginable in your kit; having a few different size choices should allow you to get by in most situations. Make sure that your wrench fits all of your studs and bring along a cleaning tool (I like a wire brush and nail) and a T-tap to re-thread the holes if needed.

If you have never used studs before, it's a good idea to practice ahead of time since it requires a certain amount of technique and a good deal of coordination that are difficult to achieve the first time!

For a more in-depth description of the different studs and how to use them, see Studs 101.

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