By American Farriers Journal

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) recently amended the Rules of Racing, making it mandatory that all horses are fully shod — wearing four shoes — while competing in flat turf races.

The amendment is the result of an analysis of 12 months of race data that showed that there is an increased risk of a horse slipping if partially shod (wearing front shoes only) when racing under flat turf conditions.

The Professional Jockeys Association (PJA) raised the issue with the BHA, which worked with the PJA, as well as the National Trainers Federation and the Racecourse Association, before implementing the change.

The BHA acknowledges that there can be legitimate reasons why trainers might wish to race a horse partially shod in flat turf races. Trainers are allowed apply for a dispensation, which must be supported in writing by a suitably qualified professional, such as a veterinarian.

“The well-being of horse and jockey are paramount to us,” says Dale Gibson, executive director of racing for the PJA. “This rule change will reduce the risk of slipping up, thus improving safety for both horse and rider, and will allow flat jockeys to ride with a greater degree of confidence at all times. Trainers of those horses with a genuine veterinary reason to be unshod can apply for dispensation or race on the all-weather, where grip is far greater. We welcome that in those rare cases where horses are unshod it must be declared.

“We have agreed with the BHA that the situation regarding jump horses will continue to be monitored, in line with our members’ wishes. The PJA are delighted to have agreed this vital improvement to horse and jockey safety. If the new ruling helps prevent one horse and jockey from slipping up and potentially falling the rule change will have succeeded.”