Stud holes in horseshoes

Q: I am looking for some advice about stud holes. My farrier has always put two stud holes in my horses’ shoes, fairly near the heel. But my friend’s farrier puts her stud holes much further around the shoe, about halfway up the sides. And a friend in the US tells me she puts three studs in her horse’s shoes. Is it just a fashion/preference thing or is there a technical reason for all the differences?

Amanda B, Napier

A: There’s some personal choice regarding the placement of stud holes. It’s important to make sure we remember that the main purpose is to help provide grip and therefore safety.

It’s more common for owners in New Zealand to have a maximum of two stud holes in their shoes. There are a handful of farriers who will fit three or four but only usually keep the third and fourth holes as spares in case the other holes fail. Overseas, it is not unusual to see stud holes fitted in various places around the shoe including towards the toe area. This is something that might be a great source of discussion to those unfamiliar with this placement!

Most commonly, we see farriers in New Zealand fitting stud holes either towards the end of the heel, close to the last heel nail hole or somewhere in between.

The argument for fitting the stud holes towards the end of the heel is so once the stud is in place in the hole, the foot cannot rock backwards – the opinion being if the stud is fitted further forwards around the shoe it introduces a fulcrum point which allows the foot to rock backwards and forwards.

We also need to consider the potential for injury when choosing where to fit the stud holes. Studs can be very dangerous and cause a lot of damage stuck in the wrong place!

David Hankin Dip.WCF

This question and answer first appeared in NZ Horse & Pony magazine, January 2010