Icy weather? Time for some helpful studs in your life!

Two pair of feet with winter shoes seen standing from behind in front of a camp fire in the snow


My apologies if the title of this post puts certain thoughts in your mind. Icy weather? Time for some helpful studs in your life!?

No, I’m not talking about the human type of studs. (Although they might come in handy – especially if they can do some laundry!).

Young black stallion in long reins at stallion grading show

Anybody giving away an approved warmblood dressage stallion…? Must be very well-bred, healthy, with great movement and extremely well-behaved!

It’s not even about equine studs – also known as stallions.
Although having one of those again here on Raaken Farm could also be fun. (Do let me know if anybody is giving away a supremely well-bred and impeccably behaved warmblood dressage stallion.)

What we are talking about here is how you can avoid injuries in winter by using hoof boot studs – for  your own boots!

Horse shoes for icy weather

In Norway it’s very common that horses are shod with shoes with studs for many months each year. Depending on where in Norway you live and on the weather, it can be from October to April.

In many stables in Norway it’s not common to put out gravel or sand when the ground gets icy and slippery.
Not on the parking lot. Not on the way to the stable or the arena, not on the paths to the paddocks… and for sure not inside the paddocks.
This means that horses cannot go outside unless they are shod with studs or are using hoof boots with studs.

White skates shown skating on ice

There are many ‘skating rinks’ in Norway – also where they aren’t supposed to be! Such as walkways and playgrounds. And yes, you will also find them at stables.


Skating rinks

‘Funnily’ enough that is not just the case in stables. Walkways, parking lots, shopping areas and even school playgrounds are very often more like skating rinks.
People falling and breaking arms and legs, or even getting head injuries, is shrugged off as bad luck or ‘just the way it is’. This winter, there were several ‘record days’ for ice fractures in Oslo – one day hospitals recorded 200 people with fractures before noon!

(I remember working at a stable here in Norway, many years ago, where I had to lead some very frisky horses to their paddocks – over an icy path on a steep slope. The owner didn’t want to put out stones or sand ‘since that didn’t look nice’. Her only advice to me was ‘You can hold on to the fence poles!’. Which didn’t really help since these were several meters apart with an electrical fence in between, to add to the excitement…)


The downside of large studs…

Our own horses are barefoot – we don’t use iron horseshoes.
However, we might use hoof boots when necessary. For use in winter these boots can be fitted with studs, just like iron shoes.
In the earlier years of using hoof boots those studs usually were very large: about the same size as the studs that are used in iron shoes.

Two plastic bags with large screw-in studs for horse shoes,

Larger studs for use in hoof boots.

Those large studs are heavy and relatively long. This works fairly well when the ground is covered in wet snow or ‘slush’ over ice.

Unfortunately it also increases the risk of injury if the horse strikes into itself.
The heavy weight of these studs is not exactly great either. It puts a lot more strain on each step. And heavy hoof boots more easily fall off and get damaged or lost.

Also, since large studs take up a lot of space, you can only get a few in each boot (or shoe).
Especially on hard surfaces where the studs cannot sink in, like ice or asphalt, that means the horse is balancing on just a few contact points. And that increases the risk of the horse tripping and spraining a fetlock.

Two black hoof boots for horses with studs screwn in, for use in icy weather.

These are two hoof boots of an older type. They only have 4 studs each. This can make the horse ‘wobbly’ on hard surfaces like ice and asphalt.


Small studs can make you happy!

Because of all the above, I was very happy when smaller studs for use in hoof boots became available.
They are not so heavy, you can put more of them in one hoof boot, and you can even unscrew them again (which is not so easy with the large studs).

On top of that, small studs have a fantastic extra benefit:


The small studs can easily be screwed into any pair of thick-soled shoes or boots. You could even take them out again at the end of the season. Or leave them in so you are ready for the next winter!
This way, not only your horse will be safe in icy weather – you will be, too!

Plastic bag with smaller studs for use in horse boots.

Small studs can often work very well in hoof boots. Even better: you can use them for your own boots, too!


How should I do this?

Putting small studs in your shoes or boots is easy!
Below you will find instructions and pictures.

For this example, we used a pair of thick winter boots with a zipper. Perfect to quickly take on and off – no more excuses not to use them!

If you are going somewhere, just throw them in your car and change into them when you arrive.


What do you need?

  1. A pair of suitable shoes or boots. Preferably with a fairly stiff and thick sole. Jodhpur boots, walking boots, winter shoes or sturdy rubber boots can all be great choices. You can unscrew the studs again and use the shoes/boots without, or you can leave them in and always have a pair of winter-ready footwear.
  2. A set of small studs. Around 10 per shoe is a nice number. But that, of course, also depends on your shoe size. So it can be a few more or less. 
  3. A tool to screw the studs in. This looks like a little screwdriver which has a top that fits on the ‘head’ of the studs.
Pair of winter boots with zippers, one standing on ice, one flat

Good candidates! A pair of sturdy winter boots with thick and stiff soles and partly waterproof uppers. Enough space to put in several studs. The zipper makes them easy to take on and off.   Photo: Alina Polifke / @sophiealina16


Where can I buy studs?

Studs can be bought at almost any place that sells horse boots, and online, of course. Ask your friends who have barefoot horses!
Many horse stores have these studs in stock. Farm stores sometimes sell them, too.

These kinds of small studs are sometimes also used by (motor)cyclists to screw into tyres for winter trips. So a cycle or motor bike store can also be a possible source.

Most likely you can buy the tool to screw them in at the same place. (Of course you only have to buy the tool once, even if you would buy more studs later!)

Winter boots with zippers

Ready to start: A pair of boots, some small studs and a tool to screw the studs in.   Photo: Alina Polifke / @sophiealina16


Winter boots with zippers and small studs on floor

Photo: Alina Polifke / @sophiealina16


How should I put the studs in?

Figure out where you want to put the studs. You can make a little mark on the sole with a permanent marker pen, for example.
That way you can easily see if the screws are in the right place, and if you have enough of them.

Put the stud in the head of the tool and just screw it in. That’s it!

Sole of winter boot with small stud being screwed in

With the little tool, putting in studs is as easy as putting in a screw.   Photo: Alina Polifke / @sophiealina16


Where should the studs go?

Each boot is different. Before you begin, look under the sole and figure out the best place to put the studs.

Ideally you should have some under the ball of the foot, and a few more under the heel.

Sole of winter boot with studs screwed in

Photo: Alina Polifke / @sophiealina16


That’s it! You are now ready for icy weather adventures!

Now you are good to go! With some helpful studs in your life, the icy weather cannot stop you anymore!

Pair of winter boots with zippers on ice surface.

Ready to go!   Photo: Alina Polifke / @sophiealina16


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Michele Stuurman

Michele Stuurman has been around horses for over half a century. Which means she has made most mistakes you can make... She shares what she has learnt, so you don't have to make the same mistakes. Michele can make riding easier and more fun - not just for you, but also for your horse!

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