Monday, July 23, 2018

'Fraidy Cat Eventing Learns About Studs

Have you ever noticed that there are certain things in horses and riding that people only really talk about as if it was the most normal thing in the world? Like, let's take studs - a common fixture in eventing where horses are jumping at speed on variable terrain.

Every time I hear someone talking about studs, it always seems like they have a sort of casual air about it. As if expert knowledge of studs is just second nature. To put it in other words - I've rarely, if ever, really seen people talk or write about the process of getting started with studs. Like you're either a stud aficionado or just, idk, totally out of the loop lol.

Maybe people don't really talk about it in much detail bc somehow everyone else in the world already knows everything about it except me. Tho, in my experience, just bc some aspect or another in horses is well known doesn't mean horse people haven't wanted to keep talking on and on about it lol...

Another reason why there might seem to be this perceived lack of candid discussion (at least as it seems to me from my perspective in the circles I'm most involved...) could be bc a lot of people just kinda... wing it when getting started with studs.

somebody, not naming any names here, but somebody was a little careless in reading the item descriptions (esp vis-a-vis quantity) when placing this order lol...
My close riding buddies Brita and Rachael first started getting their horses' shoes drilled and tapped for studs last year. And as far as I can tell, they've gotten along by chatting with other riders and a fair amount of experimentation, trial and error.

Personally I haven't really felt the need for studs in the past. It seemed pointless for Izzy since she was only shod up front. And it felt a little presumptuous with Charlie at the lowest of low levels. Plus he's kinda an awkward guy and I have what feel like legit concerns of him managing to disembowel himself somehow with newly weaponized shoes.... And with him being such a big guy that novice isn't really much of an effort for him... Ya know, I just didn't see much point.

Lately tho, my mind has been wandering a little bit. Charlie never really had an issue with confidence before Plantation. And I'm not really ready to say that he's lost confidence exactly, either. But he did learn a hard lesson about just how much more difficult it is to jump a bigger fence (like, say, a maxed novice table) when he's kinda sluggish and behind my leg.

That newfound knowledge in him, combined with his feeling somewhat shaky going downhill I believe are part of why we struggled with the rolltops in our recent schooling. Especially after he had that nasty slip down the hill on our second attempt, it really seemed like maybe some added traction could help him feel more confident.

i saw plenty of normal wrenches in the vet box at MDHT a week ago, but this bionic wrench seems most popular
So I talked to trainer P about it. And then talked to Charlie's farrier about it. And then also talked to my friends about it haha. Lots of talking lol! Also, yes, of course, a fair amount of reading. This article from Dover Saddlery is especially nice and straight forward. And the consensus is: we're going to try studs for Charlie.

His next shoeing appt is this week, and the farrier will drill and tap Charlie's shoes and plug up the holes for me - presumably with cotton. For my part, I've gone about the process of amassing my "stud kit" based on what I've observed Brita and Rachael using this past year as they've gotten familiar with the process.

poke-y thing and spin-y thing. both considered essentials according to everyone i asked
There are plenty of 'starter kits' available online that supposedly have all the important pieces. But a lot of the reviews seemed like some of the kits had extra unnecessary stuff or like the stud collection included in the kit weren't the most useful, or like some of the included tools were really cheap or whatever.

So I opted to collect my kit piecemeal. This isn't to say that I shopped for the absolute best deals or top notch equipment - it's entirely possible that maybe you could stock a similar kit at a better price point. I'm just sharing what I got and why.

It seems like the tools involved in getting the studs in and out of the shoes are just as important as the studs themselves. Esp when my friends first started using studs, it could take them a long time to get the studs in securely - which can be stressful if you're in the middle of a show and are pressed for time. So tools that break or don't work very well only create more anxiety.

pointy for hard firm ground, longer and fat for deeper ground, shorter and flat as more of an in-between
The basic process with studs is: collect your tools (hopefully they're already organized in a handy kit) and select your studs. The small magnetic tray will help keep the studs safe and together as you have to move around from leg to leg on the horse, often on grassy surfaces.

Doing one hoof at a time, start by removing the plug from the stud hole with the spikey end of the above red handled tool. The plugs I ordered (not pictured bc they haven't arrived yet) are rubber, made by Nunn Finer. There are also cotton or fibrous type plugs, but I've heard mixed reviews on them. Then use the metal brush end of the same tool to clean out any dirt, grass or debris from the hole.

Next comes the Safety Spin gadget (mine is also by Nunn Finer). This was the #1 piece that seemed to help my friends the most with getting the studs in quickly and easily. You just screw this spinner into the hole, then unscrew it. This process ensures that the threads are aligned and clear, so the stud itself can then be placed into the hole and tightened by hand.

Last step is tightening the stud with a wrench. I've seen all manner of wrenches but this Bionic version seems most popular. It tightens to fit whatever size stud you use, just by squeezing the handles.

From my observations, a lot of riders prefer to have their horses booted up before the studs go in, and keep the boots on until studs come out. Tho this doesn't appear to be a hard and fast rule, as some of the FEI riders coming off the CIC1/2* course last week (when I was volunteering in the vet box - post on that coming soon!) felt it was more important to get their legs cooled down asap vs waiting for the studs to come out. And since not every horse is ready to stand for stud removal fresh off an FEI course, that meant taking the boots off before the studs came out.

this tackle box is maybe unnecessarily large. i'm sure i'll figure out how to fill it lol... also that magnetic tray is key
So. With all this in mind, I went ahead and ordered all the above tools of the trade, along with my first couple sets of actual studs.

Tho naturally I was a bit of a bonehead in ordering them. Bc uh.... there are eight stud holes, two per shoe. And most of these sets were sold in 4packs, which I noticed but didn't really connect the dots. So I only ordered four of each for two types. And then the third type I somehow only ordered one single stud. I guess it really was too good of a price to be true lol.....

From what I understand, it's pretty normal to mix and match studs. Like having a bigger set behind than up front. Or having a bigger stud on the outside of a shoe and a smaller one on the inside. Tho I think for just getting started I'm going to keep things pretty simple lol. And yes, I did go back and order additional studs for a little more completeness lol.

unrelated: the move is finally happening. many many boxes, so many boxes
The longer fat ones are better for mud or soft deeper ground, and narrower pointy studs are better for harder ground. The very short flat ones are better for paved or very hard packed surfaces. I'm not sure yet how well my current selection stacks up, or what will end up being our favorite or whatever for different ground types. But this is where we're starting!

So we'll see how it goes haha. I'm sure there will be more trial and error involved, and possibly some additional stud shopping. But I'm hoping that the kit itself is stocked more or less fully for our purposes.

Have you used studs before? What did you find the most useful in getting started? Are there any tools you absolutely can't live without? Or any mistakes you made early on that could have been easily avoided? Or maybe you're in the process of thinking about studs soon or sometime in the future?

Do you go about learning this stuff mostly by trial and error? Or is there a more formal education process - either via something like Pony Club or maybe as a working student? Do you have a a fairly lean stud collection - maybe just three main types? Or a vast array of slightly different shapes and sizes for a completely custom approach to any ground condition?

48 comments:

  1. There's a very interesting article here that you might find worth a read: http://www.internationaleventingforum.com/the-use-and-effect-of-studs/

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    1. Oh my, that is a very wide ranging interview!

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  2. How very interesting! Never messed with them - haven't yet had a need - but definitely wondered about all the ins and outs of using them. Great overview; thanks for sharing!

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    1. I’ll definitely share more as we get to actually trying them out! I’m hopeful that having the option of extra traction will be just the ticket for Charlie

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  3. I had considered them after a similar loss of confidence at novice, but as I only get to about 3 shows a year and a couple articles I read said that they increase the load on the tendons, I felt it might not be the best fit for my older accident-prine thoroughbred. Very happy you wrote this though, it is really a not often talked about subject 😂

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    1. Ha ya that has been my concerns too, honestly. But it seems like time. So often ground conditions are a major factor in our outings, and Charlie jumps on grass often throughout the year. Especially the next few months I’m hoping to be a little busier than we were this past spring, so we will see!

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  4. My introduction to studs was sort of trial by fire for my trainer at an event :D That was stressful. Since then though, I've gotten very used to them. Duke was actually drilled the last two summers. We felt that as he's needed more support behind, he could benefit from the added grip. They helped quite a bit and I used them until we got the lift pads put on behind and he's more sure footed in them.

    One really handy piece of equipment to have is a horse shoe nail. It has a finer point to it than the stud brush/pointy thing and is often easier to get the plugs out, especially the cotton. The Nunn Finer plugs actually come with one, but it's handy to grab a couple from your farrier as backup.

    Also, I highly recommend getting the stud holes set prior to competition. When I'm getting ready the day before a show, I'll take the time to use the T tap on all the holes and replug as needed. It's a stress saver because there is nothing worse than trying to get studs in at a show and realizing on the 5th one that there are plugs missing or the holes are threaded properly. Ask me how I know :P

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    1. Great call about checking and prepping everything the day before!! And about the shoe nail - I’ve watched my friends struggle with getting the cotton plugs out with that spike tool but didn’t realize there were better options.

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  5. I think most people learn about studs from their trainer, either at shows or when they're working students. The pros been there/done that for a long time, know the venues, know the footing, know your horse, etc etc. They can generally guide you really well toward what will work best for you and your horse. I think that's a lot more helpful for most people that reading stuff online and then trying to blindly apply it to their situation, which is probably why you don't see a whole lot of talk about it. Studding correctly can be SO highly individual, taking into consideration a lot of different factors. But the general rule is when it doubt, it's better to under-stud than over-stud.

    I'll echo what Amelia says above about a horseshoe nail... one usually comes in the package with the rubber Nunn Finer plugs. I keep mine in my magnetic tray, and it makes it very easy to get the plugs out. My farrier packs the holes with cotton, which is not my favorite, and you'll be really happy to have that nail when you're trying to dig the cotton out. I replace the cotton with the rubber plugs, and just check to make sure they're still there whenever I pick feet. They stay in pretty well for me here, unless it's exceptionally muddy.

    I also usually do what she does and "prep" my stud holes either the day before a show, or early the morning of XC. There really is nothing worse than being rushed for time and having one or two stud holes that is being difficult.

    Two more things that I would add to your kit - WD40 and plumbers tape. If conditions are muddy you can wrap the treat of the stud with plumbers tape before screwing it in, so it has more grip. I haven't lost a stud since I started doing that. I don't bother when it's dry, but I lost a couple of my bigger grass tips and a mud stud before.

    Oh, I also keep a small adjustable wrench too... I have a hard time gripping my skinniest grass tips with the bionic sometimes, so I keep that adjustable one in there just in case. I like options!

    I like Stud Suds too, because I'm lazy, but you can also use clipper blade oil and a toothbrush for cleaning.

    Studs have made a huge difference for my particular horse. He was always hesitant to really gallop out, and I had to be very mindful about where he put his feet. He's not sure-footed naturally, and is built downhill. He's for sure faster and more confident with a little more grip on his feet.

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    1. *wrap the TREAD.

      Clearly it's too early to proofread.

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    2. fun story, if you put a stud in stud suds and forget about it for a season, it turns it into mush

      would not advise.

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    3. HAHAHAHA! That seems like a fun experiment.

      For some reason I am really anal about my studs and stud kit. Like way more than I am about most things, even.

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    4. i haven't used mine AT ALL since 2014 so i'm not even sure what I have anymore. they're so rusted if I ever compete again I might have to just start over. I'd love those self tapping ones....

      the plumbers tape is genius, i hadn't even thought of that!!

      oh also emma the magnetic dish is great for when you drop your stud in long grass. you wave the dish over the ground like a dousing pan and hope the stud jumps up out of the grass onto the magnet!!!

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    5. Lol helpful hints all around. I already have wd40 in the trailer but will add plumbers tape to the list (and some cleaning materials lol, still need that....). I have another normal wrench in my normal toolkit so I’ll make sure to have that on hand as well.

      I’m hoping that even tho Charlie has some of that same clumsiness that Runkle had, that he will still get the same advantage from studs as Henry. We will see! Will start small and go from there.

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    6. I love the trick with the plumbers tape! I'll remember that for sure and add it to our kit. Thanks!

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    7. now i just need to remember to add it to my list haha... so many little things all the time!

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  6. im lucky - I had my trainer help tell me what kinds to use. I haven't used them since I rode Lexy tho. Lexy galloped with little regard to staying upright, and if she slipped that shit was your fault so I always had her in studs all around.

    Runkle was drilled for stud holes but I was really begrudging about using them. He was such a flail and stepped on himself so much I had horrible nightmares that he'd step on himself and slash his coronary band or worse. Ugh i just felt nauseous even writing that!!!

    I think the biggest thing is don't use anything big and pointed on the inside holes EVER. Use different squares and hexes. That'll minimize the likelihood of of self mutilation. And you can even start by just doing hinds. When I did the jumpers I just had hinds when I showed on grass arenas.

    tip above re: getting them cleaned and plugged pre show is an excellent one. I hope they provide the stability sir charles is looking for!!!

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    1. Yea I might start with just hinds honestly. It does make me a little nervous by weaponizing the shoe lol - and even for my own safety! You hear so many horror stories of ppl getting stepped on by a stud and the injuries are gruesome. Hopefully tho Charlie will be more like the norm and not the outlier in wrecking himself....

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    2. lol @ weaponizing feet

      never weaponize any parts of the horse. if I write a how to on amateur horse ownership that'll probably be chapter 2. with chapter 1 being "are you sure you want what you're getting into"

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    3. Lol and with chapter 3 being “but are you reeeeeally sure you haven’t had a recent head injury tho?? Bc you crazy!”

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  7. May is like Izzy... only shod up front. We are also at the point of playing around in starter and looking mournfully at BN, so it's probably not necessary. If we moved up to Novice (which is looking less and less likely), I would probably use them just because the ground in KY is kind of tricky.

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    1. yea honestly i'm sorta kinda considering ourselves only in the "experimentation" phase. like, sure, charlie is now drilled and tapped, but it's the kind of choice i can make for each shoeing cycle. if i find that i'm not using them, or that they're not helping, it's as easy as just ... not doing it again the next cycle. tho we'll see - i'll keep this space updated haha!

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  8. Interesting. My horses have all been barefoot and not in a sport that uses studs so I have zero experience.

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    1. yea it's only in the last year that anybody in my circle even really got started with them. but my friends give the studs a lot of credit for their horses' success and confidence, so we'll see!

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  9. Yes to all of this! AND DONT FORGET TO CLEAN YOUR STUDS AND DRY THEM AFTER EVERY USE. Sorry for the caps. It just felt really important. Otherwise you get rusty studs. Boo!

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    1. lol the caps are appreciated - i'm notoriously lazy about the upkeep and maintenance of my stuff, so this is something that probably needs to be hammered home.... ;)

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  10. I haven’t used studs in years, but I highly recommend buying extras. Nothing sucks more than losing one and needing to use it again the next day. I think I had about two sets worth.

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    1. yea that's definitely something i've heard often. at present i can't see any example of when i would be needing studs two days in a row - i almost exclusively do unrecognized single day events, and generally try not to jump my high-mileage horse too too often. but even so, extras seem like a good idea!

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  11. I've never used them on my personal horses but years ago I was a show groom for a jumper barn and put them on the horses when they showed on grass. So I just used what they gave me, I don't know much about the different types.

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    1. and there are so many types tho!! for all sorts of footing!! the mechanical side of my brain is super interested in learning about how each different type effects my horse, but the creature of habit side of me predicts finding just one or two (or maybe three) types that seem like "tried and true" and just sticking with that lol...

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  12. I am curious to hear how they work for you and Charlie!

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  13. I will be very interested to hear how Charlie goes in them! I've heard good and nonchalant things about studs. One of the funny anecdotes (I think from Izzy Taylor when she was interviewed on the Eventing Radio Show, but don't quote me on that) was that she galloped around a muddy track and had a fantastic run, only to discover that her groom actually hadn't managed to get the studs in beforehand.

    It sounds really apocryphal now that I write it out. Maybe I made it up.

    ANYWAY. It will be great to see the results!

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    1. yea i mean, realistically i have watched untold scads of horses bop around the lower levels sans studs just fine. and have been among that crowd for the past few years. but i've also seen ppl fully studded up and kitted out for bn so.....

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  14. I used studs back in the day and all the info I got was from my trainer and a little bit from pony club. The one thing that stuck with me about studs was keeping the boots on if they had studs on. I experienced this first hand why you should do this from a friend’s horse who was still in her studs without boots on and she tried to jump out of her stall. She would of been fine (mostly) if she hadn’t had studs in or had boots on bc she completely ripped the skin down to the tendons on her leg bc of the stud. She got very lucky that it was just the skin and nothing structurally was damaged but it was ugly!!!! Lots of blood!!!

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    1. ugh yea i definitely have heard lots and lots of other riders preferring to keep their horses booted while wearing studs. the exceptions were some of the FEI horses i saw coming off course and into the vet box last week - some of those riders felt that getting the legs cooled was a higher priority than getting the studs out, and since not all those horses were able to stand still for stud removal immediately after coming off course, it meant getting their boots off before the studs to begin cooling out.

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  15. I can't wait to see how these work. We aren't at an eventing barn so I haven't actually seen anyone use these but am curious to see if they are effective

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    1. i'll keep you posted! i think the jury is already in on whether they're effective or not - you aren't likely to see many pros out on the upper level courses without studs. i think the question just becomes "at what point to studs become important at the lower levels" and the answer usually depends a little bit on the individual horse, i think

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  16. I love that rubber thing. Can't imagine putting in studs without it. Probably I'd still be standing next to that damn horse cussing my brains out. Lol

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    1. lol probably! it seems like a major difference maker

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  17. Here's my foolproof steps to putting studs in/maintenance:
    1. Take out plug with nail
    2. Clear debris out
    3. Spray hole with WD-40
    4. Clean more gunk out if needed
    5. Use t-grip- make sure you line up the threads of the t-grip with the stud hole! Super important!!
    6. Line up stud with threads before screwing it in
    7. DO NOT CONTINUE TRYING TO SCREW IN STUD IF IT'S AT ALL RESISTANT/ NOT GOING IN SMOOTHLY.
    8. Hand tighten the stud
    9. Tighten with bionic wrench/regular wrench. I like the 6" adjustable, easy to maneuver with around the horse. The bionic wrench does not work with every stud.

    Removing Studs:
    Do all of the above steps in reverse. It is very helpful to put WD-40 in before plugs too.

    Cleaning/storage:
    1. Have all the studs in your magnetic dish
    2. Spray generously with WD-40
    3. Use dirty, grimy towel to clean off dirt/debris
    4. Return them to their 'home'

    Never, ever use water!!! My stud kit had not been touched for 18 months and not a single stud was rusty with this process. When in doubt spray with WD-40. The WD-40 does not make the studs come loose or fall out. The plumber's tape is a great tip! Let me reiterate! You can easily mess up your stud hole/ruin a stud by not having the threads lined up. A clean stud hole is your greatest gift to doing studs quickly. When I'm putting in studs regularly I can do a horse in less than 10 minutes. If the stud holes are unplugged it can take 20 minutes. One final thing, a mare I've put studs in a lot, likes to rest her hind feet when I do them, that's fine. I don't make her hold her feet up. I find a stool helpful, as long as I trust the horse not to climb on top of me.

    PS- It's complete trial by fire to figure out which studs you like for which conditions!

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    1. good to know about never using water. i'm so ridiculously lazy about taking care of my equipment sometimes, but will try for these studs!! and yea the trial by fire thing on which studs for which conditions definitely seems to be the common approach haha. hopefully charlie will be as communicative about his preferences there as he is with everything else!

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  18. When I read the subject line, I was "But... you own a gelding. What do you need a stud for?" I have the dumbs. And also I have a Horse Baby, huzzah! (Pix here: https://imgur.com/a/tK2vbuM )

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    1. i read your baby post - what a scary start but omg what a cutie!! so glad that you were able to get the baby through the first night and that things are looking better now!!!

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  19. Thank you for this - I groomed at an event a few weeks ago and had to learn about putting studs in for the first time in my life. Bridget being barefoot, it's been a long time since I've had a horse with shoes, let alone studs :)

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  20. OMG I'm doing this same thing right now!! You're totally right that everyone seems to just know about studs. I think I've asked my trainer like 1000 questions and then I actually asked her to put it in an email because she was going through it so fast - road studs, grass tips, mud studs, a different kind of road studs, mix-and-matching based on height of stud - my head was spinning. But like anything with horses, we learn over time and with experience, right?

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  21. My best stud tip - clean and replug your holes during the week before you get to your event. Makes life a whole lot easier when you are tight for time for an early morning class.

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