If The Shoe Fits

This article was written by Horse Racing 101 correspondent and lifelong horseman, Heather Gregorek.

There are as many types of shoes used within horse racing; their use can be for protection of the foot due to training, to correct a horse’s movement, or to support and prevent injury to the foot or leg. Shoes are nailed on with special nails and are changed or “reset” every 4-6 weeks. Here are some of the most common types of shoes you might see listed in your racing program:

Steel Shoe

A flat shoe made of steel that is typically worn when a horse is coming back or going into training. These shoes are heavy in weight but are used because they can withstand a large volume of training without wearing down and needing to be changed often. They are usually not worn for actual races.

Queens Plate

A light weight, typically flat shoe, usually made of aluminum and used most often for racing. A queens plate contains small grooves that collect dirt that can help to provide more traction on any racing surface. Since it is a shoe made of lighter and weaker metal, it wears out easily with training and needs to be changed or reset often.

Flat Toed Shoe

A queens plate with a flattened toe used to produce quicker turn over of the horse’s front feet. The quicker the turnover, the easier it is for the horse to move at high speeds.

3/4” Bends

A regular queens plate shoe that has had the heels (the back end of the shoe) physically bent downward in an effort to give the horse more traction and quicker turn of foot.

Pads/Rim Pads

Pads are a piece of pliable plastic that has been fitted and applied underneath a shoe. A pad is often used to protect the sole of the foot and can cover the entire bottom of the hoof. A rim pad is usually already applied to the shoe and is meant to protect the outer edges of the horse’s hoof.

Specialty Shoes

Specialty shoes are most often used as corrective and protective measures and their uses and types are limited only to a farrier’s (horse shoer) imagination and ingenuity.

Glue On Shoes

An aluminum shoe with an attached nylon mesh. Glue On shoes are used when nailing is not an option due to deteriorated hoof condition. Glue on shoes are applied with a special glue and can be used for racing with no ill effect.

Egg Bar Shoe

A corrective shoe that is most often used to lend support for a horse that is recovering from an injury. An egg bar shoe is egg shaped and extends support to the horse’s heels as well as the rest of the foot. While these shoes are most often seen on horses who are injured, they can be used on an actively racing horse.