Categorized | Horse

Why Aluminium Is Used To Make Shoes For Race Horses

Decades ago, in the United States, horses were used to accomplish varying tasks such as plowing, pulling carts and deliveries. In many places, the horse continues in that capacity today. Although there are other things that horses do, Equestrian racing (horse racing) has been a sport for centuries.

The sport most likely dates back to the ancient Greek, Egyptian, Syrian and Babylonian era, according to archaeological records. Different types of racing, including chariot and harness were used as entertainment. Thoroughbred racing in North America dates back to the 1800s. While racing a horse became important entertainment, it was not long before the observation of hoof wear became apparent.


Initially, shoeing a horse became necessary because of the wear and tear from activities, such as pulling carts and wagons and carrying riders. Hoof problems were mainly due to the domestication of the animal. Also, there was the matter of the gape for racing horses. It was thought that the rider should be as light as possible, as well as the horse’s shoes. Consequently, there are two schools of thought about steel and aluminum.

  • Steel – Because of the weight of the steel shoes the horse would develop stronger legs, which could result in faster racing.
  • Aluminum – Because a horse’s gape needed to be as long as possible to win races, the horse required light shoes to protect its hoofs without too much wear.

People’s opinions vary about which materials are better suited to protect the hoofs from excessive wear during races. Although arguments have developed, the performance of the horse would win every time. Caulking at the toe or heel of the hoof was often done for better traction, despite the material being used. Materials that protect the hoof of a horse for longevity include:

  • Titanium - a low density, corrosion-resistant (including sea water and chlorine) metal that is heavier than aluminum in its initial state
  • Magnesium – a tough metal that tarnishes when exposed to air and ignites when heated, adding to the discomfort of the horse
  • Plastic or rubber – are extremely lightweight, although not as common or durable and cannot withstand the stress of racing
  • Copper – a soft, less-durable metal that kills bacteria and reduces shock

In horse racing, the more popular shoe is aluminum. It is a great choice for horse racing because it does not degenerate in water, and it weighs less than steel. It is the third most prevalent metal in the earth. Therefore, in its abundance, availability of the horse’s shoes is not a problem.

Aluminum is animal-friendly and it is not known for causing bacterial infections. Its appearance is a silvery white and does not corrode in water under normal circumstances. The lightweight material allows for a thicker shoe, giving more protection to the hoof. In light of horse racing, aluminum is the choice of many owners and jockeys.

One Response to “Why Aluminium Is Used To Make Shoes For Race Horses”

  1. James says:

    Thanks for the info. I’ve always wandered why horses were shoed with aluminium rather than steel or rubber. Great post :)


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