Professional Group One Farrier Based in Rangiora, New Zealand

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Grass Track

With the good weather of summer and Christmas comes grass track racing, we all enjoy the big grass racing, picnic atmosphere and a few beers leaning over the outside rail trying to pick a winner. One aspect of grass racing that I take a lot of interest in is the difference in stride or phases between grass racing v’s all-weather track racing. Although to the naked eye we would hardly see any change at all I am convinced from viewing freeze frame video that there is a difference. The basic changes I viewed were mostly in the skid phase, the phase where the hoof lands and skids to a halt just before the hoof loads up at mid-stance. This skid phase is very important to the whole stride and we notice it is clearly interrupted on a short grass track as to the all-weather surface where the depth of the grit works to benefit the skid. We all agree there is some concern for grip on a wet grass track but I do wonder if we need to adopt the same policy as the gallopers by checking shoes before racing because, I’m sure below standard shoes are the main reason for lack of grip . I shoe for many stables that race horses on the grass but the funniest thing is being asked to nail up (bang E type headed nails into the shoes for grip) a horses shoes that are not up to standard this only come to practice with poor management when a proper shoeing plan would do the same thing. It’s not that I disagree with “nailing up” it’s just as you can imagine it, eliminating any skid phase or at least halving it. The other problem is nails should never be weight bearing in a normal environment. Nails that sit higher than the swedge of the shoe cause a bigger list of problems, bigger than Davie Butts black book, including all of the above problems as well as causing alignment problems etc. I differently don’t disagree with nailing up but I think we need to make a compromise and remove the nails after racing. As I have mentioned in previous posts in the weekly we know that a horses stride is altered or shortened within 21 days of shoeing so I’m sure if we all had a regular shoeing plan we wouldn’t need to “nail up” as much as I’m being asked to now. I am working on developing a new shoe for wet grass track racing, with a stud insert which is something to look forward. It would involve the trainer screwing in a tapped stud much like the equestrian business.

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