Barefoot Performance: Horse Racing

“Horses First Racing” Blazes a Barefoot Trail in the United Kingdom

Horses First Racing is about showing there is a better way to care for racehorses before, during and after training. We use natural feed and remedies, instruct all our jockeys not to use the whip, turn out our horses in herds, start young horses gently using join-up and ensure they have excellent lifelong homes at the end of their careers. We are also pioneers of racing barefoot... For more news about Horses First Racing, please visit: For info on the Horses First Club visit:

Above: Cap Classique is a very special horse that nearly lost his life due to hind leg problems. He was sent to The Beeches for rehabilitation, and became sound after only a few months. See articles about Horses First Racing in issues 27 and 28 of The Horse's Hoof Magazine.

United States Racing

Sara Minsk and her husband, Brian, own Nine Maple Farm in Mendon, Massachusetts. Sara writes, “I believe we were the first ones in the U.S. to breed, train, and race barefoot, as we started in 2003 with Thoroughbreds. We created a particular environment for our horses to allow their hooves to develop to their fullest potential. At the time, barefoot was NOT in fashion, and we were quite the outcasts. It is great to see more people like Simon Earle joining the fight! However, us small farm owners have been doing the barefoot thing for a good bit now!”

Arabian Racing

These photos feature Sara & Brian's homebred Arabian gelding, NMF Benraz Halim, aka “Benny,” trained by Leslie Bickel. Sara says, “He has trained and raced barefoot with zero training-related physical setbacks. He has never worn shoes. He races and trains on concrete hard American dirt tracks. He was stakes placed as a Juvenile and just placed 2nd in the Michigan Derby Stakes Race on July 28, 2007. He has 10 starts: 1 win, 4 times second, (including 2 stakes races), 1 time third.” Sara and Brian have had racing success with both Arabians and Thoroughbreds. Visit their website at - Benny is featured in issue 28 of The Horse's Hoof Magazine.

Benny placing 2nd in the 2006 Michigan Juvenile Stakes Race. Photo by Terri Holst.

Benny leading the pack out of the gate (as usual)...who says Barefoot horses have no traction!!!! Photo by Terri Holst.

Benny winning the race on June 17, 2007.



Saucy Night Makes UK Racing History by Winning Barefoot
Ysabelle Dean interviews Eamonn Wilmont (2005)

Saucy Night Makes UK Racing History by Winning Barefoot!

The English Thoroughbred, Saucy Night (above left), entered the record books on January 3, 2005, by winning the 2 1/2 mile steeplechase at Folkestone in the United Kingdom. Saucy has continued his winning ways, leading the United Kingdom's Racing Post to write that Saucy has started a racing revolution - barefoot! As Saucy cantered past the winning post yet again, the commentator shouted out "message to all trainers out there - get your horses' shoes off!"

More news on Saucy: "Saucy Night wins again at Fontwell, 4th February, ridden by AP McCoy. Shoeless victory makes racing headlines." "Some interesting analysis from Timeform and The Racing Post: both rate Saucy Night the most improved horse in training in the UK this year, with his rating going up by 65 and 67 lengths respectively."

The Horse's Hoof Feature Story (pdf): Saucy Night Makes UK Racing History by Winning Barefoot

Barefoot Racing message board at:

This shoeless wonder if getting lots of attention from the Horse Racing Press:
"Shoeless Saucy a tribute to Earle's ingenuity" The Racing Post
"Easy Saucy Shoes How" The Daily Star
"Shoeless Success for Saucy"
"Shoeless Saucy puts best foot forward"

For more information on barefoot racing, please visit Simon Earle Racing home of Saucy Night and Kavi!
BAREFOOT HORSE RACING in the United Kingdom! Simon Earle Racing is a small Flat and National Hunt yard specialising in Natural Horsemanship. Our goal is to get the best out of all our horses and to ensure that they have long and successful careers.

Don't miss their online newsletters! Here are some excerpts from the current edition:

"Some interesting analysis from Timeform and The Racing Post: both rate Saucy Night the most improved horse in training in the UK this year, with his rating going up by 65 and 67 lengths respectively."

"Some interesting analysis from Timeform and The Racing Post: both rate Saucy Night the most improved horse in training in the UK this year, with his rating going up by 65 and 67 lengths respectively."

"Why Barefoot?
A question we've been asked countless times this year and one we are always happy to answer. The simple answer is the horses are running better without shoes, their tendons are under much less pressure, they are healthier, and recovering faster from both work and racing. Everything any trainer could want. While we have no intention of saying anything in the press to raise the stakes in this matter, to our friends and supporters we would say the question should actually be "why shoes?" How did the horse manage for millions of years before we 'rescued' it with shoes? The horses foot is a magnificent example of natural engineering providing shock absorption, spring, and even supporting the heart and lungs with a natural pumping mechanism. All of our thinking regarding Natural Horsemanship, such as having horses out as much as possible, is about removing ourselves from interfering with what is best for the horse. Our company motto is "Horses First" and if horses thrive being out then we need to accommodate that even if that means we need hundreds of acres of pastures. They need and want to graze constantly in a herd environment, and our job is to support that. Going barefoot can take many months of trimming and special conditioning - it is NOT easy. However we have no doubt it is better for the horse and we see our role as enabling the horse to reach its full potential in every way possible. In return we are seeing horses not just running lifetime bests, but many people have noticed they are running full out and giving absolutely everything. We feel they can sense that they are safer from injury and pain free and as such can run without restriction."

Flat Racing

Another UK barefoot win - Racing Post thinks it may be first ever win on the flat for a horse without shoes.
Kavi, 5 year old gelding: owner Eamonn Wilmott writes on Feb 15, 2005, "Raced yesterday at Lingfield Park over 1M 4 furlongs on the all weather surface. Was rated 16th of the 16 runners. 3 furlongs from home, there is only one winner, as Kavi cruised up and pulled away to win easily by 3 lengths. Racing Post think it may be first ever win on the flat for a horse without shoes. Winner paid 64-1 on the Tote."

More news on Kavi: "Kavi wins again. Barefoot record this year is now: 7 runs - 4 wins, 3 2nds." See Simon Earle Racing for more info.

February 2006: Brother Derek, a racehorse training barefoot in the United States:
From the Associated Press 2/9/06 - "Derby prospects in action this weekend" quote:
Notes: San Rafael winner Brother Derek galloped 112 miles without shoes for trainer Dan Hendricks. “He trains without shoes and he’s worn glue-on shoes since Del Mar to allow his feet to air out and expand naturally,” the trainer said. The colt’s next start will be in the Santa Catalina on March 4.
Also from CBS Cportsline 2/7/06 - "Brother Derek the target now" quote:
Since last summer, it has been standard practice for Brother Derek to train without shoes.

©2007 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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