Caulkin – lengths, types, shapes. How to pick the right caulkins for your horse?
Horseshoes are used mostly to protect and strengthen the surface of the horse’s hooves from abrasion. Shoes are usually made of steel or other very durable metal alloys and they work perfectly for horses, who often walk on hard grounds. However, horseshoe cannot provide proper grip, which might be dangerous especially for sport horses. Shoed horses are more prone to leg injuries that have to do with losing adhesion of the hoof to the ground. For such horses, it is recommended to use shoes with screwed holes that are filled with the so-called horse studs or calks. The task of a caulkin is to improve the grip of the horse’s limbs to the surface on which he is moving.
When to put studs on?
The seasons of fall and winter are not too favorable for shoed horses. This is why, if you have a shoed horse, you should think about using studs as there is more and more mud. However, before you put them on your horse’s shoes, you should find out which length, type, and shape would be best.
It is worth mentioning that a calk is a metal bolt screwed into the bottom part of a shoe, which on one end has a thread and on the other a slightly sticking out “head.” A caulkin put on each of the hooves is useful during training sessions, when you canter or trot on the grass on which the horse can easily slip, or in the rain when the ground is very slippery. These bolts are usually used in combined driving, jumping, rarely for dressage.
Types of calks
A properly fit studs to each shoe will allow the horse for more confident jumps on slippery ground.
You might wonder what type of bolts to use if it is raining or if it is not raining, for sandy surfaces or grassy ones. First and foremost, you should think of the type of surface you will be riding on because the kind of bolts depends on that.
We can differentiate three most crucial types of the said bolts:
- bolts for road (dry, solid soil, crushed stone),
- bolts for grass (slippery ground that is pretty hard underneath),
- bolts for mud (soft surface).
Screwing the caulkins
Screwing the studs in is simple, however, it requires a knack. If there are dummy plugs in the shoe holes, you have to first take them out with a hoofpick or some other tool. Another task is to clean the holes and remove any dirt and litter. After cleaning, it is good to tap the holes with a screw tap, which would make the screwing in easier. The bolts can be initially screwed in with your hand, but you need to finish this task with a special wrench.
Shape of caulkins
The said bolts come in different shapes that should be picked accordingly to the activity and type of Surface. On a grassy muddy and soft ground, you should use conical bolts with blunt tips. On an icy surface, you should use short bolts with studs. For show jumping, you should use pretty big bolts (even more than 2 centimeters) in order to maximize the grip while taking off.
Remember that the bolts should be taken off after each ride when the horse is being transported or spends time in a stall. You should also not use them when you let the horse out on a paddock, where other horses would be. A horse that has the said bolts on, might hurt himself or other horses. If your horse limps or has any other injury or sickness, you cannot use bolts, as prolonged use of them will cause additional muscles and tendon spasms.