Racing Equipment Promotes Safety and Welfare


Horseshoes: Keeneland’s house rules specify which horseshoes trainers are allowed to use during racing and training on dirt and turf. Keeneland’s policy exceeds the level of safety provided by the recommendation. Before each race, the Paddock Blacksmith follows strict shoe inspection protocols to ensure compliance with these house rules:

  • Shoes that have toe grabs, bends, jar calks, stickers or any other traction device won on the front shoes are prohibited on any racing surface. Horses may wear plates with a height no greater than 2 millimeters on front shoes while racing or training.
  • Any hind shoe with a turndown of more than one-quarter inch is not allowed on the dirt track.
  • Only Queen’s Plate or Queen’s Plate XT front and hind shoes are allowed on the turf course.

Riding crops: Only cushioned riding crops that meet the certain specifications regarding weight, length and shock-absorbing characteristics may be used in Thoroughbred racing and training. Among them: A crop cannot weigh more than eight ounces; cannot exceed 30 inches in length; and cannot have a shaft measuring more than three-eighths of an inch in diameter. Crops also cannot include stingers, projections or metal parts. Any riding crop may be subject to inspection and approval by the stewards or the clerk of scales to ensure conformity with these specifications.

Saddle pads: Horses must carry a specific amount of weight in a race, which includes the weight of a fully dressed jockey with all of his or her equipment except for the helmet, crop and safety vest. Since 1996, racehorses at Keeneland have worn dense pads, called “Best Pads,” that are textured to fit the horse and distribute weight evenly and comfortably