Saturday, October 08, 2016

Arabian Show Horse Shoeing Rule Changes Proposed: Toe length increases, pad limit and measurement may be imposed

This Half-Arabian show horse is shod in a way that would not be legal under proposed rule changes. The length of toe, shoe measurement, multiple pads, and other parameters are in line, and shoe bands are currently legal and would remain so under the new rules. However, one pad is not 100% leather. The pad next to the foot is a combination leather/plastic pad. Under new rules, a horse may wear up to two pads, one of which must be leather only. Notice that the band is attached to the wedge pad, not the shoe. (Zack Morris photo)

The Arabian Horse Association (AHA) has submitted a proposed shoeing rule change to the United States Equestrian Federation. AHA is the governing body of the Arabian horse breed in the United States and Canada; it is an affiliate of the United States Equestrian Federation and represents more than one million registered Arabian, Half-Arabian and Anglo-Arabian horses.

AR106 Shoeing Regulations, Artificial Markings and Appliances, as posted on the USEF website, details the current rules on how saddleseat-type show Arabians and Half-Arabians may (and may not) be shod.

Fran Jurga, Hoofcare and LamenessIn particular, a proposed requirement limits the thickness of pads used between the hoof and the shoe. Only two pads may be used, and one must be made of leather. The distance from the hairline to the ground may be slightly longer.

According to the AHA, the purpose of shoeing regulations and restrictions is "to protect the health and well-being of our horses and the integrity of the sport."

While the proposed rule appears complex, it is a rearrangement of the current rule in some aspects, including a change in the way that the length of the toe is measured, which mitigates an actual increase in toe length.

What is really new is a requirement to limit the number of pads and the combined thickness of pads, and a slight increase in allowable toe length.

The rule change did not outlaw the use of shoe bands or limit the weight of the shoe. Arabian show horses have no weight limit, but there are several small rules that prevent excess weight from being engineered into the shoe or between the pads.

The new rule does, however, remove one critical way in which weight has been added to the shoe. The new rule limits bar shoes to a bar at the heels, rather than across the center or toe quarters to more directly affect movement.

Jim Sproles, show farrier at the Scottsdale Arabian Show each winter, chuckled at this rule change. “How can you call a bar across the middle of the foot a bar shoe?” he asked. Technically, many Arabians wear open-heeled bar shoes.

Arabian shoes and hoof pad rules change
Case horse example 1. Shoeing for a Half-Arabian show horse that would be legal under the new rules: one plastic wedge pad and one leather pad. Notice that the shoe has a rocker toe but the foot is measured from the hairline to the ground, not to the bottom of the foot or shoe. Aspects of this horse's foot and shoeing will be shown in this article. (Zack Morris photo)

This article will highlight the changes to the rules; the rules on how an Arabian show horse may be shod are several pages long, so you will only see the changes and basics here.

The first thing you should know about these rules is that they govern the "saddleseat" type Arabians. Arabian sport horses, hunters and jumpers, driving horses and other distinctly different disciplines are exempt from these rules.

English pleasure, country pleasure and park horses are some of the divisions most affected by these rules.
lost Arabian show shoe pulls off hoof
A "blowout" on an Arabian or Half-Arabian horse pulls hoof off with the shoe and pad. If this happens in the ring, it will delay the show. In response to criticism, some horses wear shoe bands to hold the shoes and pads on. A new rule change would permit attaching the shoe band to either a pad or the shoe. No other photos of this horse or foot are available. (Zack Morris file photo)

The proposed rule change contains no statement saying whether or not shoes are required. Presumably, barefoot horses may be shown in all divisions.

Hoof boots, traction devices, glue-on shoes, and other modifications or versions of a horseshoe are not mentioned in the rules, so presumably they are not banned, but neither is there a statement interpreting the use (or omission) of hoof equipment options outside what is listed. Hoof boots and glue-on cuffs that might be considered hoof boots are becoming more and more sophisticated and may one day be viable for a show horse.

farrier replaces horseshoe in the ring during show
One complaint of heavy shoes and multiple pads is that horses can throw shoes during a class at a show, delaying the event and the momentum of other competitors. When a horse throws a shoe, it can be inspected to see if it is legal under AHA rules. (Clarke Thomas file photo)

For now, what an American Arabian or Half-Arabian show horse wears is pretty standardized and is based on a toe-weight shoe on either a long (for the size of the horse) foot or a foot made long by the addition of pads. Pads are not used for protection from rough objects, as they would be on a trail horse; they are used to lengthen the foot and change the angle, while protecting the foot from the impact of an up-and-down movement with exaggerated knee action. Wedge pads are used to re-orient the foot and prop up the common problem of underrun heels.

Arabian show shoes have no weight limit but weight must be added within the rules. Oregon show horse farrier Zack Morris said that his shoes and pads will typically weight 1 1/2 to just under 2 pounds. Shoes and pads for bigger horses wearing bar shoes might weigh 2 1/2 pounds, but he said that is rare.

For anyone unfamiliar with Arabian show horses, these rules have been evolving since the 1980s, when pads were first allowed. Arabians are not gaited horses, but their shoeing requires their farriers to understand many of the gaited-shoeing techniques for enhancing action, but they must, at the same time, maintain the two-beat symmetry of the trot and compensate for varying degrees of asymmetry in the front feet.

Horseshoe and two pads for Half-Arabian show horse
Case horse example 2. From the top: leather pad against the foot, plastic wedge pad, toe clip rocker-toe shoe prepared for reset on a Half-Arabian English Pleasure show horse. The two pads have a combined width of less than one inch so this setup would be legal under the proposed Arabian shoeing rules. This horse's shoes and feet are featured in other photos in this article. (Zack Morris photo)

This list paraphrases the rule document; only the highlights are listed, in the interest of space. Please refer to the official rule proposal wording.

1. Shoe material and configuration

1. Shoe material. (no change) Horses may be shod with shoes of any material.

1a. Shoe thickness (no change) No part of the shoe may exceed 3/8" thick x 1 1/8 wide.

1b1. Bar shoes (change) are allowed but may contain only one bar, which must be either a straight bar or an egg bar.

1b2. (change) The bar must be located at the rearmost aspect of the shoe.

1b3. (change) The bar may not exceed 3/8" thick x 1 1/8" wide at any point on the shoe.

1b4. (change) The bar may not extend below the ground surface of the shoe.

1c. (change) Shoes bands, if used, may be attached to either the shoe or the pad, if present.

Half-Arabian English Pleasure show horse with toe clip shoes
Case horse example 3: Front feet of a Half-Arabian English Pleasure show horse in the Pacific Northwest; this shoeing job would be legal under the new rules. Half-Arabians will also be allowed a slightly longer foot at 5 1/4". Most Arabian show horses have some degree of asymmetry in the front feet, which is another challenge for farriers who must deliver a horse with optimal and symmetric limb action. This horse's shoes and feet are featured in other photos in this article. (Zack Morris photo)

2. Age-related shoeing rules

2a. (no change) Horses less than two years old must be shown barefoot.

2b. (change) Horses that are two years old may be shown with shoes described in these rules but bar shoes and pads are prohibited on two year olds.

2c. (change) Horses under five years old and horses entered in Futurity, Junior Horse or Maturity classes may not wear bar shoes.

2d. (change) Horses three years old or older are allowed one or two pads. If two pads are worn, only one of the pads may non-leather.

Ground view Arabain show horse shoe
Case horse example 4: This is the ground view of the shoe with attached pads shown in previous photos. The Half-Arabian horse wearing this shoe shows in the English Pleasure division. The pads are riveted at the heels. The shoe is designed as a "toe weight" to concentrate weight forward of the widest part of foot. The actual foot is shorter than the length of the pads and shoe. This horse's shoes and feet are featured in other photos in this article.

3. Toe length

3a. (change) PUREBRED ARABIANS: 4 3⁄4 inches (up from 4 1⁄2”).

3b. (change) HALF-ARABIANS and Anglo-Arabians: Maximum length of toe is 5 1⁄4" (up from 5”).

3c. The overall length of toe includes shoes and any pad(s) present.

Arabian saddleseat horses are shown both by professional trainers and amateur owners or junior exhibitors, depending on the class and division. The horses are shod for action and/or reach. Weight, length and wedge pads affect all three and farriers are charged with crafting a delicate balance of the three factors, which are subject to the less changeable aspects of the horse's natural ability, attitude and conformation. (Selena N photo)

4. Method of Measuring Toe and Heel, Shoe and Pad.

4a. (change) Using a 6" metal ruler, the length of the toe is measured on the front of the hoof, in the center, from the hairline to the ground. "Hairline" is considered the origin of the hair at the coronet band. (Current rule measures "from the skin line on the lower side of the coronary band", explained as "The thumb should be used to press on the horny hoof wall proceeding from the ground toward the hairline. The first compressible soft tissue palpated is the lower side of the coronary band. The hairline does not necessarily coincide with the lower side of the coronary band.")

4b. (unchanged) Heel measurement is calculated "from the skin line on the lower side of the coronary band to the ground, with the ruler perpendicular to the ground,"

4c. (change) Shoes are measured with an accurate gauge. (Note: what sort of gauge that would be is not specified)

4d. (change) Pads, if present, are measured at their thickest point with an accurate gauge. (Note: the type of gauge is not specified.)

bar shoe Arabian rule change for farrier
Is this a bar shoe or an action shoe? This shoe is currently legal under Arabian/Half-Arabian rules, but would not be legal under a proposed rule change, which specifies that a bar shoe must have a straight bar across the heel area or an egg bar. The rule does not specify whether or not a straight or egg bar may have additional "bars". Adding a bar to a padded horse is a simple method of manipulating the weight distribution on the foot to influence gait or action. (Zachary Morris photo)

5. Pads

5a. (change) The use of one or two pad(s) (either full or partial, including rim) made of rubber, leather or plastic, is allowed. Only one pad may be composed of non-leather material.

5b. (change) Total maximum thickness of the pad, or combination of the pads together, shall not exceed 1".

5c. (change) The introduction of a foreign material within or between the pad(s), between the pad and shoe or between the pad and hoof (other than accepted packing material such as oakum, pine tar, silicone, foam rubber, etc.) designed to add additional weight or enhance action is strictly prohibited.

5d. (no change) Material with anti-concussive qualities (such as rubber, silicone, latex, etc.) may be used between the pad and hoof for additional support, provided such material does not extend beyond the inner rim (edge) of the shoe.

Arabian show horse shoer uses #6 or #8 nails
Typical nails used for an Arabian or Half-Arabian show horse setup: these are #6 and #8 Anvil Brand nails. The pads are riveted to the shoe and the shoe-and-pad combination is then nailed to the foot. (Zack Morris photo)

6. Inspection

6a. (change) Shoe/foot inspection may be required and can include measuring the shoe, hoof lengthen and inspection of pads, if present. Inspection can include (but is not limited to) visual, x-ray, metal scan, or manual separation of pads. Shoes and pads cast in the arena in any class are not exempt from shoeing regulations and will be inspected. The trainer and/or the owner may be suspended for violations.

• • • • • • • •

Where to go from here: Please read the complete rule change proposal posted on the USEF web site. The AHA's Annual Convention will be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma from November 16-19, 2016. AHA's Hoof Study Ad-Hoc Committee will present the new rule proposal for approval there.

To see the official rule posting on the USEF website, click here for the new rule change compendium. USEF members may submit their comments by logging into their My USEF My Way accounts. The only way to show your approval or make a change is through the proper USEF or AHA channels.

Note: The rules and changes have been paraphrased in the interest of saving space on The Hoof Blog. Please refer to the official language of each and every rule if you are interested in learning more or submitting comments.

To learn more:

The Mechanics of Shoeing Gaited Horses (1979) and The Identification, Analysis and Correction of Gaited Faults in Horses (1989), both by J. Scott Simpson, are out of print but explain why and how gaited and long-footed horses are shod the way they are--or were, when those books were published. Used book dealers who specialize in horse books and some libraries may have copies.

Massive thanks to Jim Sproles, Zack Morris, and others for assistance in clarifying current and proposed Arabian shoeing rules during preparation this article.

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Robin said...

As in soring, it should simply not be allowed. And I am shocked it is.

Linda said...

Very much opposed to this.

Anonymous said...

How about we start respecting the horse??And only allow barefoot horses with natural angles??This way breeders would simply have to reproduce the best and sounder horse...

Unknown said...

Seems everyone would be in a more fair competition if the horses were all barefoot with a natural trim.
At least the horses feet would be healthier and not falling off.

CallMeTed said...

This shoeing is illegal as soon as the new proposed rule goes into effect.......regardless of what the Arabian association thinks. Bands, pads are prohibited and any shoe over 16 oz.....and this affects ALL breeds. To think horses should be shown barefoot shows the ignorance of many people on here and I will not show a horse if I can't show him with shoes. It's time to take back our country from the people who think animals should be treater with greater respect than another human life.

Anonymous said...

to unknown, how is wanting horses' hooves to not break apart from these completely ridiculous shoeing 'packages' taking any respect away from human life??? your statement is completely inane.

Karen Edwards said...

I am shocked to see how far the heavy shoes/pads have come since we were involved in Class A Arabians showing back in the 80s. At that time, horses could not have pads at all, and all were shod as naturally as possible, using standard shoes. Shoes are necessary for any horse that is worked on dry ground extensively, but these shoes are horrifying! Arabians are supposed to be shown naturally and this is a far cry from that. I do not favor the current rules, OR THESE NEW ONES, but it does seem like the new ones are maybe a step back in the right direction towards more naturally shaped and shod hooves.

It is time to recognize that Arabians do not all have the fancy trots naturally, and limit the very high action classes to those who can do the work without the artificial foot aids. These shoes are not safe for the horses and limit their ability to function as an actual horse in a pasture setting.

We acquired a lovely show gelding last year who did very well in English Pleasure open classes but was ready for retirement. It has taken a full year to get his hooves back into the proper shape with the right angles, after a number of years of him wearing the big shoes/long toes. And, he was not shod extremely at all, just a single pad and a slightly heavy shoe! He still moves beautifully, I'm not sure his success had anything to do with the shoes!

Cath said...

Disgusting!! why on earth is this allowed.. They should be unshod or in a basic shoe.. Why would you want to breed from any horse with feet like that?? or even ride a horse with such terribly shaped feet, which is causing structural damage higher up, decreasing the lifetime health of the horse.. And yes, I had the best ridden Purebred Arabians in New Zealand in the 80's, who competed advanced dressage, show jumped, show hunter, side saddle. westerns, halter, everything... in basic normal flat shoes.. Stop causing your horses pain, imbalance and shortening his life.

Unknown said...

As is the case with one of the many issues in the racing industry...if no jockey had a bat, one horse would still win. And in shoes, these complicated rules IMHO, only leave room for cheating and certainly do absolutely no good for the horse. I can't understand why we don't get the value of a level playing field. Does competition always have to invite unfair advantages?

Ruth Jacobi said...

I attended the Scottsdale Arabian Horse Show this year for the first time after a long hiatus from Arab shows and can't find the words to express the depth of my shock, anger, and then sadness for what has happened regarding the hoof care of these marvelous horses. In the 1980's I watched an Arab lose a National Championship due to an (unintended) one-quarter ounce overweight of the standard shoe. But now, who and what is driving this boat to change these horses' natural, beautiful movement, and put them at such risk of injury? And when did Arab owners decide that they would like to go in the direction of big-lick Tennessee Walkers? I was so disgusted by what human ignorance and greed is doing to these horses' feet that I left the grounds and chose not to return.

Erica Franz said...

To me, it seems that the ribbons, trophies and prize money should go to the farriers of these horses, not the riders or owners. If there is that much complexity going into the shoeing of these horses, it's not the riding or training that is producing the winner anymore.

Fran Jurga said...

Thanks for that interesting comment, Erica Franz! That's an interesting way of looking at it!

Barbara said...

Oh, have we learned nothing from the Tennessee Walker controversies and the Saddlebreds. I have ridden horses of both these breeds barefoot and with standard shoes and they were wonderful. I want a horse to last in a wonderful life.

Karen said...

This crosses the line from enhancing gaits to creating gaits, that is, altering the gaits to create a form that is impossible to produce without gadgets - in this case stacked pads and weighted shoes. When that line is crossed and accepted by the industry at large, there is no end to it. Training becomes a matter of tweaking gadgets - thicker pads, pads of different materials, heavier shoes, more severe bits - instead of employing a systematic program of conditioning and teaching the horse new behaviors in response to the rider's aids. Unabated reliance on gadget training has ruined the Tennessee Walking Horse. Breeders produce horses of inferior conformation that can tolerate the enormous stacked shoes, without which the Big Lick is impossible. The Arabian breed would be better to go back to balanced trimming and flat shoeing.

Anonymous said...

What a joke.... Those poor poor amercan horses,does the wefare of the horse not count?? All comes down to ribbons and money,such greed ....pathetic..

Unknown said...

I am so sad at what I see in America. And so glad my Arabian has no shoes and wonderful feet. It appears to me that welfare of the horse is always a secondary concern in the states whilst unnatural gaits are admired. The Arabian is a beautiful and sensitive breed and this is simply not kind. Horses in the desert would plough into the sand if they moved like these poor souls. Why interfere with nature to ruin a functional foot? Its simply ridiculous as well as cruel as must be very painful to move in the way this encourages or forces?

Anonymous said...

Another sad example of man's inhumane treatment of horses.
Those believing these rules add grace & beauty to the breed & their performance should have a similar rule for riders, judges, & spectators attending.
The rule: all persons in attendance must wear clown shoes that extend 25% longer that their bare feet & attached with bungee's or metal bands matching those bands used on the horses

Unknown said...

This is ridiculous,it's tantamount to lying about the horse's ability, never mind the fact that it makes them look like Walking Horses. If they did away with everything except a normal foot and shoe, then if a horse that showed a higher, more flamboyant action was wanted the breeders would breed such. As it is, how can you tell if the horse has a good action or not if it's all down to its shoes? I've seen video of flat shod, or even barefoot Hackneys with beautiful action which to me indicates it can be bred into horses if wanted.

cid1953 said...

I used to show American Saddlebreds and now I have an Arabian. I have not shown since horses since 1984. I was considering showing my Arab mare, and she has wonderful natural movement but I'm not even sure that is the type of motion that is even desired now. The motion with pads is nothing like the natural motion of an Arabian. I cannot believe that people showing Arabians have gone in this direction. I am disgusted with what has come to pass and will not be showing my horse. I guess the sad thing is that the Arabian show horse industry has given in.