Winter Traction Tips
by Bob Schantz
Winter can create traction problems for horses, and therefore for farriers charged with their care. Care should be used when deciding how much traction is needed. Excessive traction can create torque to the limbs, too little allows the horse to slip or fall. In addition to forged caulks, there are four primary traction devices that you can apply to horseshoes:
• Borium Head Nails
Each type of traction device requires special skills and knowledge for proper application.
Techniques for applying Drive-in Studs
1. Be sure to use the exact size drill bit the manufacturer dictates. If the hole is too small, damage will occur to the stud when driven. If it is too large, the stud will quickly loosen and dislodge.
2. Do not drive the stud to the bottom of the shoe. The shaft of the stud is tapered and will tighten as the hoof bears the weight of the animal. If you drive it to the bottom of the shoe the stud will loosen and dislodge. Leaving about 1/8” will help ensure the studs remain where you put them.
3. As with the nails described above, do NOT use your good hammer to drive the studs into the shoe. Either keep an old hammer for this purpose or place a piece of flat steel on top of the stud and hammer on the steel.
Techniques for using Borium headed nails
1. These nails will give some traction for the horse that will only occasionally be on frozen asphalt roadways. They are the easiest traction to apply. During the nailing process, you may choose to use between 4 and 8 nails per shoe. The more nails, the greater the traction.
2. Because of the hardness of the Borium, damage will occur to your hammer. Therefore you should NOT use your good hammer. Use an old driving hammer in place of the good one.
Techniques for applying Screw-in Caulks
1. As with the drive-in studs, be sure to use the exact size drill bit the manufacturer dictates.
2. Use a countersink drill bit or, after the stud hole is drilled, take a larger size bit to make a small countersink. This will prevent difficulty when threading caulks by creating a “pocket” at the top of the hole.
3. If you plan to do a lot of drilling and tapping, you might want to get a cordless drill and taper tap. To see demo video of a tapping drill Click Here
4. Never tap dry. Use a bit of tapping lubricant on the tap. 5. Be certain the tap is square to the hole. Taps are strong but brittle and will snap if you are not careful.
Techniques for applying Borium
Borium consists of fine tungsten particles encased in a steel tube. It must be welded into the shoe and requires an Oxy/Acetylene welding torch.
1. Prepare the shoes and fit them to the horse prior to applying Borium.
2. Adjust the flame to a neutral position and begin heating the shoe in the location you will weld the Borium (usually two spots at the toe and one spot on each heel).
3. By stacking the shoes, you will pre-heat the lower shoes as you weld the top shoe.
4. When the shoe begins to “puddle” it is ready to accept the melted tube of Borium. Keep the Borium stick melting and the shoe puddling to achieve proper merging.
5. When you have a sufficient amount of Borium, adjust the flame to a carburizing flame (reduce the oxygen to achieve a feather flame). Use this flame to “wash” the Borium, exposing the tungsten particles.
6. Let the shoe air cool, do not quench.
Techniques for applying Drill Tek
Drill Tek consists of coarser grit tungsten particles encased in a brass/Silver solder matrix. It may is brazed onto the shoe either by using an Oxy/Acetylene welding torch or in a gas forge.
1. Prepare the shoes and fit them to the horse prior to applying Drill Tek.
2. To apply with a welding torch remember that Drill Tek is brazed onto the shoe, not welded. It therefore requires less heat than Borium.
3. Begin by removing any scale from the toe and heel areas. A quick pass on your belt grinder or hand held grinder will work well.
4. Heat the shoe in the area you will apply Drill Tek. At the same time allow the end of the Drill Tek rod to absorb some heat.
5. Dip the hot end of the rod into a can of #2 brazing flux.
6. When the shoe is a strong red color, move the flux coated rod close to the flame so that it begins to melt and drip onto the shoe. WATCH THE SMOKE. If you see a lot of smoke the rod is too hot and should be pulled back. Ideally you want to have just enough heat to keep the shoe bright red and the rod slowly melting onto the shoe. Too much heat burns out the Silver solder and causes a very poor bond. This will be revealed by a black color to the finished product. Properly applied, the drill tek should be golden in color and blend perfectly with the horseshoe. For step by step instructions on applying drill tek in a gas forge, Click Here