Barefoot Performance: Jumping

Do barefoot horses make better jumpers?

Alex Nicol thinks so.

The bay mare “Top of the Decade,” a six year old by Decade, ridden by Alex Nicol.

Alex has competed on the top jumper circuits in the east coast USA and Australia, and now competes in Australia on all barefoot horses. She notices less injuries all around: "There are no recurring lamenesses, no tendon strains (we gallop the Holsteiners fairly often during the show season), and no cuts from shoes brushing."

What about studs, you ask? Here's what Alex has to say: "Most of the showing I did in the USA was on all weather surfaces that, in my point of view, did NOT require studs 95% of the time. Jumping in Australia has been more of a challenge, as some of our best shows are on a grass surface. I believe that the most slippery surface to jump on is a beautifully mown grass surface that is wet from the rain or dew. The last time I jumped on this surface was on my six year old Warmblood/Arab mare, “Top of the Decade.” It was a speed class. Nearly all the riders where concerned about their horses slipping and had large studs in their shoes. There where over fifty horses in the class. There were, indeed, quite a few horses slipping—one even slipped over onto its side as it turned a corner. My barefoot mare jumped very confidently, didn’t slip at all, and had the fastest time to win the class. I don’t ride my horse like she is going to slip, I ask her to stay surefooted, and trust that she can do so. I’m choosing not to argue with many years of evolution, when it comes to horses having the best hooves."

Contact Alex at email: alexandra_nicol @

Rick Dabner riding “To Liberate,” a seven year old KWPN gelding by “Burggraff,” at the 2007 Perth Royal Show in Australia. They were the winners of the Part Three Speed class.

Carol Warwick riding Rove, an Australian thoroughbred, in the 2007 WASJA Futurity, Australia.

Above: Catherine Chandler of Wickenburg, Arizona, jumping 6 yo warmblood gelding Hermes.

Above: Catherine Chandler of Wickenburg, Arizona, with CF Promise Me (aka Indra), a 5 year old TB/Clydesdale cross mare. She also competes in dressage.

Above: "This is Red, a barefoot draft cross. We trail ride all day in the mountains of Montana, compete in hunters, jumpers, dressage and soon (hopefully) eventing. We've been foxhunting, in parades, and travelled all over the country together. He's sound and healthy no matter where we are."--Alee

Above: Calvin is 7 year old quater horse thart has been "proformance trimmed" for about six months (Jan 2007). If all goes well this winter, Calvin will be showing in either level two jumpers or in green hunters at 'A' shows this spring. The horse is trimmed, trained and ridden by Ben Goldberg. Photo courtesy Ben Goldberg.

Bruce the Appaloosa (above) and Bill the free jumper (below) are barefoot, too. Photos courtesy Ben Goldberg.

Above: Dehere’s Mint (aka: Chewy), 8 yr old off track TB who was lame for 4 years in shoes. Totally sound and won Grand Champion Adult Hunter at this show on 6/4/06. Now owned by Natalie Cruz & Greg Scott. Natalie barefoot rehabbed him beginning in Sept. 2005. Photo courtesy Natalie Cruz.

Above: Clifton’s Dante, 4 year old American Warmblood, never shod, first time out jumping. Owner/Rider: Greg Scott. Photo courtesy Natalie Cruz.

Above: Irish Rocket, 4 year old Irish Draft/TB cross gelding, owned by Debbie Maurie. Sent to Dawn for training over fences, will be starting his career this fall as a foxhunter. Photo courtesy Dawn Jensen.


Above: Showjumping rider training Marci Lambert's barefoot Thoroughbred, Dutch. Photo courtesy Marci Lambert.

Above: Kaylaa, age 9, riding barefoot Mariah at the Idaho State Fair. Photo courtesy Loryhl Goodman.


©2006 by The Horse's Hoof. All rights reserved. No part of these publications may be reproduced by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the publisher and/or authors. The information contained within these articles is intended for educational purposes only, and not for diagnosing or medicinally prescribing in any way. Readers are cautioned to seek expert advice from a qualified health professional before pursuing any form of treatment on their animals. Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher.

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