Man versus Horse: Organisers say horses must wear shoes

Winner crosses Man v Horse finish line The winning horse - with metal shoes - crosses the finish line as four legs prove better than two in Llanwrtyd Wells

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The organisers of the annual Man versus Horse race in Powys have ruled, for this year at least, four-legged entrants must wear metal shoes.

The decision comes after a campaign by some riders who claimed the shoes could harm the animals' hooves in the long term.

Green Events chairman Lindsay Ketteringham said the terrain covered meant horses must wear them.

But he said it "will be carefully considered" ahead of next year's race.

Mr Ketteringham said they would "review the overall opinions of the equine and veterinary community".

He added that riders and farmers familiar with the terrain in Llanwrtyd Wells supported this view.

"The race has been run for the last 32 years under this ruling, and whilst this is not a deciding factor in itself, last year was the first occasion that a single rider requested to take part with an unshod rather than a shod horse," Mr Ketteringham said.

Start Quote

There is still a divided body of opinion among the experts as to the suitability of the practice for race conditions”

End Quote Lindsay Ketteringham Race organiser

"It has become apparent to the committee that whilst the practice of barefoot horse riding and the use of boots rather than shoes is growing, there is still a divided body of opinion among the experts as to the suitability of the practice for race conditions."

The race has been run since 1980 and takes competitors along farm tracks, footpaths, open moor land and tarmac.

More than 300 solo runners, 111 relay teams of three, and 50 of their four-legged rivals took part in the 22-mile (35km) event around the town last year.

'Unique event'

Sarah Braithwaite, who has written a book about so-called "barefoot" horses and competes in endurance rides, said rules forcing shod horses were outdated.

She said the decision was "unreasonable".

"For me, the point is riders should have the choice whether they do or do not shoe their horse," she said.

Mr Ketteringham said the "unique" event had been supported over its 32-year history "purely by volunteers who give up considerable amounts of their spare time to organise it".

The only occasions when men have beaten horses were in 2004 and 2007.

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