Surfaces must be firm enough to support the horse while soft enough to dampen the load. It must be responsive to return energy to the horse effortlessly, providing enough purchase for propulsion and enough slide for the landing.

Shoeing Performance Horses for Synthetic Surfaces

Strategies to keep equine athletes sound and comfortable during competition

Farrier Takeaways

  • The slide phase of a horse’s stride is of utmost importance for absorbing concussion and reducing the potential for injury. Therefore, as farriers, we need to be proactive in our attempt to create slide with the shoes that are applied on horses working on synthetic surfaces.
  • Due to the abrasive ground force reaction of synthetic footing, we must pay close attention to the wear plates in our aluminum shoes. As the aluminum becomes worn, the steel wear plate can become a toe grab, creating even more traction.

The study of synthetic footing remains the frontier of the sport horse industry. In my opinion, synthetic footing is the sporthorse farrier’s greatest challenge. There is little scientific data available to guide farriers. Mostly, we have our own experiences and those of our colleagues to what works and doesn’t work for horses that are performing on synthetic surfaces.

My experience comes from 24 years of shoeing and what I’ve learned from mentors, colleagues and horses along the way.

I’m the founder of the multi-farrier practice C-Cross Farrier Services in Colorado. We are the official farriers of the Colorado Horse Park since 2015. We cover an average of 75 days of hunter/jumper shows each year. We also worked the 2016 FEI North American Young Riders Championships, the 2017 FEI World Cup and Dressage Finals in Omaha, Neb., as well as the 2018 American Eventing Championships, all of which were shown on synthetic footing.

We’ve had the privilege of tending to horses from…

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Jason critton 3

Jason Critton CJF, TE

Jason Critton owns and operators C-Cross Farrier Services, a multi-farrier practice in Colorado.

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