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New Track Surfaces Present Challenges To Platers

Jury still out on the best way to shoe for synthetic tracks


Racetrack shoers are still working out the best way to shoe horses on Polytrack and other synthetic surfaces, as opposed to traditional dirt tracks.

Shoeing the racehorse has taken on a new set of challenges with the new Polytrack synthetic surfaces being used on many racetracks.

“It’s a whole new ball game now,” says Steve Norman, the Midway, Ky., farrier who is on the Jockey Club toe grab committee that has been addressing safely issues. “We’ve had slow motion videos for the past 30 years to help us look at how horses move and these are now helping us look at how horses run on Polytracks and dirt tracks.”

Norman says the committee has been looking at both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds and has seen interesting differences during the slide phase of the stride.

“This has us scratching our heads about what we are seeing,” he says. “Should we ban toe grabs on certain surfaces? Do we have enough data to say we feel horses don’t need them? I’ve been on this committee since it started and it’s been interesting to learn how the horse’s foot hits the ground. It’s not as simple as just putting on shoes and going on to the next horse.”

Few Conclusions

Norman says the committee is still trying to figure out all the factors. He says there simply isn’t enough data to conclude that Polytracks are better than dirt.

“Right now we can say we’ve had fewer horses injured on the Polytrack, but that’s…

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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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