Since researchers maintain that toe grabs pose a significant factor in racehorse injuries, racing commissioners will likely be asked to pass rules banning these kinds of shoe modifications. Despite the fact that trainers will be reluctant to stop using toe grabs, this was the recommendation by participants in a recent 2-day conference on the health and safety of racehorses that was sponsored by the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation.
Featuring a raised ridge on the leading edge of the shoe, toe grabs are commonly used to improve traction on dirt racing services — although many tracks already ban toe grabs on grass since they tear up the track surface. Data presented by University of California researcher Susan Stover indicates the odds of a horse suffering a fatal racing injury while wearing toe grabs on its front feet are 3.5 to 16 times higher than with horses not wearing toe grabs.
Wet feet cause additional trouble if a horse has less than ideal conformation and uneven foot stresses, maintains Mitch Taylor. The owner of the Kentucky Horseshoeing School in Mt. Edens, Ky., says that if a horse is base narrow and toed out, then most of the animal’s weight is borne on the inside heel quarter, which can lead to a sheared heel.
“The foot starts to warp because the horn is soft and the inside heel begins to jam upward, stretching the connection of the capsule and…