What studs should I use?

The purpose of studs in a horse’s shoe is to give both rider and horse confidence and grip when competing. BE Organisers put in a huge amount of work to their ground but going can vary due to other factors such as the time of year, terrain, soil type and weather - so how should you stud up for the going?

There are three main considerations when studding up: ground conditions, the type of horse and the activity.

  • Generally speaking, the more pointed studs are used when the ground is hard and/or slippery.
  • Square, dome and bullet-shaped studs are designed for use when the going is soft.
  • Some of the studs are a hybrid, which are designed to help when the ground is mixed or difficult to gauge, such as when there has been recent, heavy rain on top of hard ground. 
  • It’s also advisable to use either the same studs in the front shoes as behind, or slightly larger ones in the hind shoes, but never the other way around.
  • A general rule of thumb is that the smaller the horse or pony, the smaller the studs used
  • Less is more - You certainly don’t want your horse to slip, but at the same time if you go too big you can jar your horse up. 
  • From a safety aspect, if your horse leaves a leg at a fence, you don’t want a long, sharp stud puncturing his body.
  • Horses are can be less confident on grass if it’s an unfamiliar terrain. Find a field to jump on and find the stud that works for you and your horse.

One stud or two?

  • Two studs per shoe give grip, stability and balance 
  • Make sure that the inside stud is not pointy in any way, just in case the horse treads on itself.
  • In the past, people were taught that two studs would stop a horse’s foot from turning - modern thinking is now recommending two studs per foot. 
  • Recent studies show that, although a horse’s foot is designed to turn, it does so around a centre point, not an arbitrary point on the outside of the foot or wherever the stud hole is positioned.
  • In addition, a horse will either have its foot off the ground as it turns or at least be weighted towards the toe. The stud is rarely in the ground as you are turning.
  • If you pick too big a stud and only use one, you will tip the foot onto an angle, but with two big studs it will just lift the heel, which is a movement the fetlock joint makes anyway. 
  • If the chosen stud is too small and you still slip, at least it will be in a straight line.

If you’re not sure what’s right for your horse ask an expert, such as your farrier, for advice. 

Have you seen Zanie King’s top tips on stress free studding up?

First published in July/August 2019 British Eventing Life magazine, original words by Stephanie Bateman

Stud experts:
Annie Jolly of Supastuds
Nigel Turner of Rescuestud