Shoeing Barrel Horses

As barrel racing grows, farriers have to keep one stride ahead in developing new shoeing techniques

COMPETITIVE DEMANDS ON performance horses are increasing. As a result, the farrier industry is experimenting with new ways of dealing with specific types of hoof wear.

Each specialty horse needs footwear designed for a specific task. While precise shoeing techniques have been the rule for Standardbred racers and Tennessee Walking horses for a number of years, owners of barrel-racing horses are now demanding the same for their equine athletes.

Yet little attention has been given to the shoeing demands of the barrel-racing industry, even though it continues to be among the fastest growing equine sports.

Equistat reports that barrel-racing events paid out over $12.2 million in prize money during 1998. These dollars are awarded at top futurities, professional rodeos, derbies, sweepstakes, National Barrel Horse Association super shows, national shows, state shows and world championships. Barrel Horse News estimates there are 50,000 barrelracing competitors today.

The fun part of shoeing a barrel racer is that they all run differently. As a result, numerous shoeing techniques can be used to enhance optimal performance.

Surface Concerns

Barrel-racing arenas vary greatly in soil composition, which ultimately affects the horse’s footing. A professional rider may run his or her horse in deep sand one weekend, slick mud and clay the next week and then make a run on sticky gumbo soil or hard rock gravel on the third weekend.

Since barrel horses move differently and arena compositions vary greatly, there’s no specific best way to shoe a barrel horse. Numerous techniques enhance breakover, improve overall…

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