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
  • Drive-in Studs and Pins
  • Screw-in Caulks
  • Borium or Drill Tek

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.

    Watch Mike Wildenstein, CJF, FWCF (hons) present a how-to video for the application of Tungsten Carbide pins and studs on FPD’s YouTube Channel.

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.


This article is from Tips from the Pros in FPD’s Field Guide for Farriers. Find more farrier education articles, videos and tips at

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