The barefoot horse movement has gradually been growing in popularity around the world for the last few years. The concept and intentions have always seemed for the better of the horse, including comfort and welfare. To date, this has been the domain mainly of pleasure riders, and lower level amateur riders, with some exceptions.
The Barefoot Movement
Proponents of the barefoot movement certainly have been vociferous with regards to the negative impact of nailing a shoe on a horses foot. As with many new and perceived alternative movements, radicals within the movements can inevitably relegate them to the fringe. There are also normally rational voices who keep the intention balanced. Up until now, running horses barefoot has not been taken all that seriously by high level competition riders, mainly due to the fact that only a very small handful of horses have competed and won barefoot at the high levels in the Olympic disciplines or dressage, showjumping, and eventing, let alone at the Olympics.
That all changed however in Tokyo 2021, with 2 of the horses on the Gold medal winning Swedish showjumping team (Peder Fredricson and All In & Henrik von Eckermann and King Edward) competing barefoot. Not only did they win Gold as a team, but also won a medal in the individual final.
The Swedish Team Farrier Comments
Not surprisingly the barefoot movement has been exceptionally excited about the result. It probably important that the wider equestrian community also take note. However there is more to this story than just running the horses barefoot, including the surface the horses are competing on, the individual horse, and the type of sport they are competing in. The context is important here. It's timely that the Swedish team farrier Peter Glimberg, has just published an article on hoofcare.blogspot.com.
"It isn’t hard for a farrier to get the top horses to function and perform barefoot on these surfaces. The problem is to get them to also function in the fields, in the walker, hacking out and so on." -- Peter Glimberg
You can read the entire article here: https://hoofcare.blogspot.com/2021/08/olympic-hoof-explained-swedish-barefoot.html. It provides great context and important concepts of competing your horse barefoot.