Stable Footing

Using traction devices such as screw-in studs or drive-in calks offer much-needed grip and protection, but farriers say use only when absolutely needed

Providing your client’s horses with proper traction is critical toward keeping the horse safe, ensuring healthy feet, preventing injury and getting the optimum performance out of shoes. 

Traction devices come in many varieties, whether they’re applied to the shoe in the form of screw-in or drive-in studs, jumping calks, pins, creased heels. wedged heels or by means of applied compounds such as tube metals or composite rods.

The April, 2005, issue of American Farriers Journal featured an article  (“Borium Or Drill Tech,” page 95) on using tube metals and composite rods as traction devices. This article examines the use of screw-in studs and drive-in studs as traction devices — primarily to provide stable footing for horses such as hunters and jumpers.

Although traction devices can be beneficial, and even necessary, many veteran farriers know that you need to use them with discretion and thoroughly explain their functionality to the customer.

“The lack of client knowledge about traction devices is one of my biggest problems,” says Ross Hutton, a farrier from Wonder Lake, Ill. “Some clients want me to use Borium or drive-in calks on every shoe I nail on during the winter months or screw-in studs whenever the conditions turn sloppy. They don’t realize the damage that traction devices can do to the joints of their horses, especially when these horses are ridden across blacktop or concrete during trail rides.”

Certain devices, such as studs, will definitely increase traction, but also increase the amount of force exerted on the shoe…

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