Call us 24/7 - 1-800-461-8898

All about studs


“Are you part of deciding what studs to use? Is so, can you please tell us everything you know?!” – Jean F. from Carlsbad, CA

Deciding what studs to use can be a difficult decision. Nowadays there are so many types, small, medium, large, round, square, flat, pointed, hexagonal…the list goes on. When working for Phillip I would pick the studs at the lower level horse trials, sometimes he would come back from XC and tell me he needed different studs, but for the most part I could make the right decision using previous knowledge from competing at the event and the weather that we had had during the past few days! At FEI competitions he would choose what he wanted to run in, and I would always take a selection up to the warm up in case he felt that he needed to change things up.

First and foremost, when making your stud decision, you need to keep in mind that studs need to penetrate the ground. Studs that are too big can cause serious concussion to the foot and lower limb structures if the foot can not land on the ground in balance. If in doubt, go smaller, and if at all unsure don’t be afraid to ask someone at the show that may have more experience than you.

Taking care of your stud holes whilst not competing is essential for quick and easy studding at shows. I like to use the rubber stud plugs. Personally I find these easy to use, and at shows that run over multiple days they keep the holes clean enough to prevent re-tapping on consecutive days. Repetitive tapping can cause crossed-threads, which are a hassle and time consuming to deal with.

I always recommend cleaning your stud holes a day prior to the show. Nothing worse than trying to keep to a time plan and then not being able to correctly stud a shoe.

Stud Hole Cleaner
(8 reviews)

Studs should be kept in a box where you can keep same types together. I like to line each section with either, paper or soft cloth. I then spray the cloth with WD40, which keeps studs slightly oiled and less likely to develop rust. After use I wash the studs off in water, towel dry them and then spray them with oil in their individual sections.

My stud kit always contains:

  • Adjustable wrench, I prefer the medium size wrench, if it has an all-metal handle I would wrap it in vet wrap to provide better grip in sweaty or wet conditions.
  • Large horseshoe nails to clean out holes.
  • Magnetic stud plate. I cannot live without this, as it dramatically reduces the yearly cost spent on replacing lost studs!!!
  • WD40
  • Rubber stud plugs
  • Round flat head tap. I strongly recommend this kind over the ‘t’ tap. Not only are they safer to use, but I find the shorter screw stem allows easier tapping and you are less likely cross threads.
  • Hoof pick
  • Small towel to wipe off wet hands or studs.

General stud rules:

  • Use same type of studs in both front shoes, and always put inside and outside studs in so the foot is balanced when landing.
  • Always use more blunt studs on the inside so that there is less chance of the horse striking himself and causing injury. You may want to put a small road stud on the inside and a small grass tip on the outside if a little extra grip is needed.
  • Never leave a horse studded without some sort of boot protection.
  • I personally would take studs out after XC before removing the boots, anything to prevent the horse from injuring himself.
  • If your horse tucks his knees well when jumping, remember to check his belly area to make sure a stud guard isn’t needed for extra protection.

Which studs you need:


  • The photo above shows a good range of studs I believe you should have in your kit. The top line of studs would be used in heavy going mainly on the hint feet. The bullets can be put on the inside if you want to pair them up with the large squares.
  • The middle row consists of a variety of grass tips. I would use the first five of these in the hind feet on the outside, when the ground is on the hard side, they can be paired up with any of the last four in this row. Just remember you want to keep the height of the studs similar. The last three would be the most used studs in my kit. I use these on hard and/or slick ground. They can be paired together for front feet or I might use them as outside studs in front along with small road studs on the inside…(see third row)
  • The studs in the final row are all classed as road studs. These would be the most commonly used at lower level events where speed and sharp turns are at a minimum. I would normally use the same in both fronts although the point of the third stud in from the left is too sharp for an inside. This one I would typically pair with the flatter hexagonal stud on the inside (second stud in from the left, third row).

Suggested stud combinations:
Each of the following photos shows a different pairings of studs that I consider feasible to use. In all three photos, the one on the left of each pair would be the outside stud. As I hope this shows, when studding, you should follow the three simple rules:

  1. If unsure, go smaller rather than bigger. But remember, the stud must always be able to penetrate the ground.
  2. If not pairing the same stud, ensure the height of each stud is similar, always put larger stud on the outside.
  3. The hind studs should either be the same or larger than the front studs.
  4. 20130507_144027



    Emma Ford

    Emma Ford is one of the most respected grooms in US Eventing. Born and raised in the UK, Emma came to the US in 1998 to groom for top eventer Adrienne Iorio. After seven years with Adrienne, Emma moved to True Prospect Farm to work with five-time Olympian and 13-time USEA Leading Rider of the Year, Phillip Dutton. During her tenure with Phillip, Emma cared for many famous equine athletes including Connaught, TruLuck, Woodburn, and Mystery Whisper. She’s groomed at Burghley, Blenheim and Boekelo, cared for horses at the 2006 and 2010 World Championships, 2007 Pan Am Games, and 2008 and 2012 Olympics, and groomed at Rolex Kentucky and Fair Hill International every year since 2001. And now she’s here to help you! Submit your grooming questions and Emma just may be able to teach you a few of her tricks!

Tagged with:
Posted in Ask The Groom

Recent Posts

3 comments on “All about studs
  1. Mle says:

    Hi Emma,

    I know this was posted like ages ago but I just started using studs as I moved from the west coast of the US to the east and was told I could use back studs only sometimes. Is this a good idea? I’ve done it and it seemed okay, but I still had front foot slippage. I’m going at Training level in muddy/deep grass conditions.


    • Emma Emma says:

      Hi Mle.
      There is no problem with only using back studs. You have to do what is right for your horse. Obviously i do not know your reasoning behind the decision but you know your horse the best. If running in wet conditions i would recommend putting in small blocks to try and aid in preventing slipping in front.

      Good luck with future competitions.


  2. Holly says:

    Hi Emma,

    Your article was so helpful and thank you for the example pictures. We are going to be using studs for the first time because my daughter is starting to participate in training level horse trials. I am trying to learn all I can before we purchase anything. It had been mentioned to us to only tap the back shoes. Would you personnel always put front studs in if you where using back studs? Or is there a time when only back studs are needed. Is there a brand name of studs that are your favorite. I know rusting is an issue and I want something that will last and not be frustrating to put in. Do you keep the stud plugs in all the time to protect the threads in the shoe or just after you clean them a day out from the show? Sorry for all the questions. Totally new at this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Share it:
You'll this

SmartCombo™ Senior Pellets

As Low As: $57.95
(267 reviews)
Healthy Horses  ❤  Happy Riders