Adding traction devices to the horseshoe

 Adding traction devices to the horseshoe

If your riding plans involve traveling over footing that presents a slipping hazard, you may want to ask your farrier about adding traction devices to your horseshoes next time. Be sure to let the horseshoer  know in advance so that they will have the appropriate supplies and enough time. There are so many options, so it is not always possible to have every horseshoeing supply on hand.

Do all horses need borium, drill-tec, studs?

No.  For example, the horse’s bare foot provides excellent traction and most horseshoes have a feature called fullering that fulfills the traction need for the majority of situations.

 fullered shoe for added grip.
fullered shoe for added grip.

Fullering  is the crease that runs through the center of the web of the shoe. Your farrier may call it the crease.  Dirt and small rocks pack tightly into this grove which give the shoes  a grippier surface.  This seems to be adequate for most of my clientele.

Drive-in Studs

One option to add traction to a shoe is to use drive-in studsTo do this, the farrier will use a drill press to create additional holes in the horseshoe, then drive the slightly flared plugs of hardened metal into the shoe. The shape of the stud and the weight of the horse keeps these cleats snugly and permanently embedded into the shoe.

drive in studs
The drive in studs are easy to instal and available in different sizes
drive in studs
drive in studs give extra traction on paved roads


Screw in Studs

If you would like to be able to adjust the traction of the shoe screw in horseshoe studs put you in charge. All you need to do is ask your farrier drill and tap your shoes for studs before your next appointment. This will allow you to customise your horse’s grip by using a threaded “stud”. The studs are easy to install with a simple ratchet wrench and are taken out after riding or driving.

If this is something new to you be sure to do some research, or better yet, seek expert advice on the best traction option for your situation .

Borium or Drill-Tech brazed Onto the Shoe

Borium or Drill-Tech are a combination of a filler material, usually brass, and very hard metal (drill tech is made of crushed up metal drills) that when heated along with the shoe, permanently bonds. This, combined with the weight of horse and rider, provides a non-slip surface on hard uniform surfaces such as limestone, concrete or pavement.

In addition to giving additional grip, shoes with Drill-tech or borium will prevent a shoe from becoming excessively wore down making it a good choice  for horses that travel on the road or over rocky terrain regularly.

Middle Tennessee Farrier
shoe heated with torch to braze tungsten carbide, a hard metal, the horseshoe’s groundbearing side for increased traction on pavement
Other Traction Devices
  • Toe grabs, turndowns, blocked heels and stickers are lingo common  flat race shoe options that are not used on saddle horses.
  • Cart horses in Europe are shod to give the best grip on the varied types of cobblestone used in regions. The history of traction in horseshoes evolves as our relationship with horses continues to change
  • Reining horses wear shoes designed to decrease traction.

There are even more types of traction for horses that I don’t regularly use. Older horseshoeing textbooks contain many ingenious tips and tricks of methods used quickly adding extra grip to a shoe that are not commonly used today. I am certain that we can all look forward to new and better ways of helping our horses get a grip as farrier technology evolves.

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