Trainer Mick Easterby has called on the BHA to publish the findings that have led to their planned controversial rule change, whereby horses in jump races have to be shod on their hind legs as well as forelegs.
The veteran trainer said: “The BHA said they conducted a two-year survey and said they collected all sorts of data, but they have never published any of it. Why not?
“If they are going to change the rules to make it more dangerous for horses, as they will be at a greater risk of cutting into their tendons, surely we should be told what they found out. They should be made to publish it.
“I’ve been training for 70 years and I know that young jump horses, in particular, who are wearing hind shoes are much more likely to suffer tendon injuries than those without.”
The rule change is due to come into effect from February 1, but there is widespread belief trainers who prefer to run horses over jumps with just front shoes on should be allowed to continue doing so.
Easterby continued: “I agree with everything Nicky Henderson said, but though boots and bandages do offer some form of protection they aren’t ideal as they make horses’ legs sweat. In my opinion the best protection are bandages with cotton wool underneath, but the problem nowadays is not many people can put them on correctly.
“I feel very strongly about this and am going to take it all the way. I think the RSPCA should be involved as well, for it’s a horse welfare issue. I don’t want my horses to be in danger of cutting their legs off.”
Leading jockey Brian Hughes supports Easterby’s view, and said: “I think it should be up to the trainer. People like Mick, Tim and Peter Easterby and Jonjo O’Neill have a wealth of experience and it should be at their discretion what shoes they put on.
“One thing is definite, when I’m on the ground after a fall and am trodden on, I’d rather it be by a leg without a shoe on than one that is shod.”
Brian Hughes: leading northern rider supports Mick Easterby’s concerns
Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
He added: “I’ve never had a problem with horses slipping because they have no hind shoes; I’ve even had horses slip with their front feet.
“I can understand making them be shod all round on the Flat as they go that bit faster and some of the bends are quite tight, but for me it isn’t a problem jumping. As long as the horse is well schooled I don’t mind whether it’s wearing Nikes, Dr Martens or no shoes at all.”
The Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has no intention of following the BHA’s lead, according to their chief executive Denis Egan.
He said: “It’s definitely not on the cards to follow the actions of the BHA and make horses wear shoes on their hind legs. That is the decision of the trainer.”
Leading trainer Henry de Bromhead said his horses wear a full set of shoes 99 per cent of the time.
“Mine wear a full set, unless there’s some reason whereby they cannot do so – but it would want to be a very good reason,” De Bromhead said.
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