Horseshoe caulks, AKA horseshoe studs!


What horseshoe studs or caulks are for and how you can take care of them.


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  • If your horse is shod, you can add studs or caulks to your horse to help him with traction, varying ground conditions, mud, hard-packed earth, turning, running, and keeping his legs under himself.


  • Studs and caulks are screwed into the horseshoe and poke out, grabbing the earth as your horse lands.


  • There are several types and styles of studs available, each one with a different purpose and shape.


hind legs of a horse as his legs clear a jump


How many types of horseshoe studs and caulks are there? There are several types and styles of studs available, each one with a different purpose and shape.


  • Road studs are used for hard-packed footing and are square and flattish in shape.


  • Grass tip studs have pointy ends and can be used on grass or hard surfaces.


  • Mud studs are sometimes called bullet studs. These are rounded tips for slick and deep footing and are usually a bit wider than other styles of studs.


  • Olympic studs remind me of little missiles and are used for deep mud and heavy-going footing.

What’s the process to use horseshoe studs or caulks?


  • Your farrier is the first step in the studding or caulking process. During a shoeing, your farrier will drill and tap holes in the horseshoes. Drilling creates the hole, and tapping creates the thread in the hole that the stud will screw into.


  • Keep the holes plugged up until you need to use them. The best way to do this is really personal preference. Some people plug with cotton, some people plug with cotton and a lubricant, and some people plug with rubber plugs designed especially for this purpose.


  • Some studs are “self-cleaning”, which means they have a channel built into them that funnels dirt from the holes out as you are screwing them in.


  • When you are ready to use studs, remove the plug and clean out the hole. You can use a horseshoe nail to pull out any cotton, or just pop out the plug.


  • You then need to clean out the hole with a screw tap. This makes sure there is nothing that will interfere with the threads, like a leftover piece of cotton or dirt. Screw taps come in a few styles. Some look like pens or small screwdrivers, but if your horse yanks his foot away and stomps, he could step on the tip and have a puncture wound. Some screw taps are like a short round disk that if stepped on stop the tap from entering the hoof.


  • Now you are ready to thread the screw. Do so after you have cleaned out the hole and before your horse puts his hoof down again. To be safe here, use an adjustable wrench. Should your horse pull away and step down, the wrench will stay in your hand. If you use vice grips, the tools will stay with your horse and he will step on it.


  • When your horse is finished remove the studs, replace the plug, and carry on.



hind shoes on a horse with caulks


How to take care of your horse’s studs and caulks!


  • Most studs are some sort of metal, which have the ability to rust, rendering them useless. The best thing to do is rinse them with soap and water, then dry them thoroughly.


  • Once dry, lubricate the studs with some sort of oil designed for metals. Many people use WD40, as this won’t touch your horse, but use gloves when handing so that the oil does not accidentally touch your horse’s skin.


  • You could also use clipper oil. There’s no need to soak everything, just lightly coat the studs. Some people store their studs wrapped in a cloth or towel that’s been lightly oiled.


  • Do seal everyone up in an airtight bag or box or container. Clean and dry and oiled and sealed is the way to keep your studs rust-free, just like your clipper blades.


  • You can also buy products that clean and lubricate the studs for you, in one step.


  • If you do find that your studs are a bit rusty, you’ll need to remove the rust with a wire brush before use. You might find that this degrades the quality of the treads, and it’s worth it to toss the rusty studs and get new. As far a horse things go, studs are pretty inexpensive.


Basic safety while using horseshoe studs or caulks:


  • If you have never used studs before, find an experienced trainer that can help you sort through all of the options and how to use them. This, like stud chains, is not something to mess with by yourself.


  • There’s a lot to cover about stud safety, starting with how to use them. First and foremost, studs MUST penetrate the ground your horse steps on. Otherwise, your horse’s hoof will twist and the angles of your horse’s hoof will change with every step. If you are unsure about this, skip the studs or use a smaller one.


  • Your horse should not wear them for any other purpose other than being ridden on a specific surface. If you are using studs to work in a grass field, but the walk to and from is on pavement, put them in and take them out in the grass.


  • Avoid using pointy styles on the inside edges of your horse’s shoes. Interference from one hoof to the other leg can lead to pretty gruesome accidents.


  • You can combine studs of different styles. Use larger studs on the outside, and typically the hind studs are the same or larger than the fronts.


  • Understand that when your horse is wearing studs, his horseshoe will stick into the ground and the forward momentum will send his hoof forward. The horseshoe might benefit from clips on the front so that the nails have some help staying tight.


  • Absolutely use bell boots and sturdy leg protection if you are using studs. Polo wraps are not a good idea, stick to a sport boot.


  • If your horse is jumping, be aware that your horse’s hoof can reach up and pop him around the girth area. Use a stud guard girth if this is a possibility. These girths are wide like a huge shield to cover your horse’s entire girth area.


horse with caulks and boots cantering on grass field


Take care when using horseshoe caulks, and enjoy the extra traction!


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