This study aimed to assess the effect of lateral heel studs on foot–ground interaction in the horse by quantifying foot slip during stance whilst cantering on a grass surface. It was hypothesised that using studs would decrease foot slip distance on the ground conditions tested. Nine horses were ridden with and without a stud placed laterally in the shoe of each of the 4 feet. High speed video-analysis was used to track hoof markers and to provide data quantifying foot slip distance, slip duration and stance duration. Using studs resulted in a significant decrease in foot slip distance in all four limbs (all P values < 0.004). The magnitude of the difference in slip distance with and without studs was greatest in the trailing limbs.
The results supported the hypothesis that using studs will decrease foot slip distance in horses cantering on a grass surface, and additionally, highlights that stud efficacy may vary between limbs. The decrease in slip distance with studs demonstrated increased traction and a more stable foot–ground interaction, although this may cause a concomitant increase in the required energy dissipation, either within the limb or via surface deformation. The effect of repetitive usage of studs in the aetiology of musculoskeletal conditions should therefore be investigated further.