As many of you know, I recently decided to start using studs with Otis – https://therubbercurrycomb.wordpress.com/tag/studs/ – and have since learnt a lot about using them.
Lesson number one is do not leave cleaning the stud holes until the morning of the show – it is extra hassle and bending over your horse’s feet are sure to make you red-faced. Plus there’s always the risk of dirtying your white jodhs.
Lesson number two is that it is much easier when you buy a proper combo spanner of the correct size, rather than using the hole at the end of the tap.
Lesson number three is that a metal toothpick and a little wire brush are brilliant tools for cleaning the thread of the stud holes.
Lesson number four is that magnetic trays are worth their weight in gold and should a stud fall into the long grass the tray doubles up as a metal detector.
Lesson number four is that stud holes should be plugged as soon as your horse is shod, in the hope that half the plugs will stay in and you don’t have to dig minute stones out of the holes a week later.
Finally, lesson number six is that cotton wool stud plugs are ridiculously expensive and should be avoided at all costs.
After picking myself off the tack shop floor at the price of fifty plugs, including a shiny nail of which you can usually procure from your lovely farrier, I asked my right hand man for ideas. My chauffeur was recently promoted to right hand man after he caught Otis, booted him for travelling, and loaded him and my tack into the car and trailer on his own when I was running late for a jumping lesson. But that’s another story.
The idea of finding a solution to cotton wool gripped my right hand man and over the next couple of weeks he provided some everyday items to try and block the stud holes. After trying the polystyrene S-shaped packaging, pieces of foam, wooden dowels, and numerous other everyday items, I found that foam ear plugs worked a treat. They were a bit long, so by trimming half a centimetre off the end and dipping the end in Vaseline the ear plug could easily be squashed into the stud hole using the nail.
Positives of the brightly coloured ear plugs is that you can easily see when they fall out, or if they are still in; they are much cheaper than cotton wool plugs; and they can be pulled out easily, not leaving any fibres to get caught in the thread.
We’re also looking at trying to design stud plugs that screw in, like the ones in football boots, so that the holes don’t need tapping out each time and the thread of the studs isn’t damaged. If you see us on Dragons Den you know we’ve been successful!
In the meantime, what do other people use to plug stud holes? And what little tricks do you have to make life easier?