International Jumpers Compete Sans Shoes; Here’s How

The Swedish show jumping team recently won Olympic gold and jumped more clear rounds than any other nation at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but that wasn’t their only claim to fame — two of the three team horses did it barefoot.

Most competition horses wear shoes to protect their hooves from wear, provide traction, and prevent issues with the structures within the hoof. However, going without shoes also has its benefits, though horses that have had shoes on for months or years may need time for their hooves to strengthen and grow accustomed to not wearing shoes.

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Dr. Stephen O’Grady of Palm Beach Equine Clinic told Horse Network horse hooves are designed to absorb concussion, accept weight, and dissipate energy. A barefoot hoof has a surface that interacts with the ground to strengthen the overall foot. A shod hoof, on the other hand, bears weight just on its periphery, where the shoe rests on the sole; shoes don’t utilize the soft- tissue structures within the hoof.

Though not wearing shoes can improve hoof health, not every horse can go barefoot and be comfortable, O’Grady says. The type of work the horse is asked to do, the surfaces on which he works, and genetics will all play a role in deciding if a horse can stay sound barefoot. The horse’s veterinarian and farrier should be consulted before shoes are pulled.

A horse that has had its shoes pulled will need to be acclimated gradually, and have workload tapered to allow for the adjustment. The horse will also have his hooves shaped and not trimmed, so his hooves will look different than those hooves wearing shoes.

Done properly, many horses can transition to going barefoot – even those jumping in the Olympics.

Read more at Horse Network.

The post International Jumpers Compete Sans Shoes; Here’s How appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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