Are Unshod Dressage Horses at a Competitive Disadvantage?

Some riders believe shoes help give a dressage horse better gaits; scientists have found that idea to be mostly a myth.
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barefoot dressage horses
While many riders believe that shoes help give a dressage horse more beautiful gaits, a group of British equitation scientists have found that idea to be mostly a myth. | Photo: iStock

Would you compete your dressage horse barefoot?

While many riders believe that shoes help give a dressage horse more beautiful gaits, a group of British equitation scientists have found that idea to be mostly a myth.

“Our research indicates that an unshod horse is not going to be at a competitive disadvantage as far as dressage goes,” said Richard Mott, BSc, of Warwickshire College, in England. Mott presented his study, prepared in collaboration with Julie Ellis, MSc, also of Warwickshire, at the 2014 International Society for Equitation Science conference, held Aug. 6-9 in Bredsten, Denmark

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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