A couple of years ago, there were some ice-tolt competitions (tolting / racing on ice)
and exhibitions put on in North America.
Altho this can be exciting for some, there are those who are concerned for the
health of the horse, the stress, and long-term soundness as a by-product of these
types of exhibitions.
We know that heel caulks cause a great amount of torque on the legs of a horse.
Ice nails and any other kid of non-skid devices worn by the horses would also cause
Let's look at it this way: Say you're going dancing.... there's a nice, shiny,
waxed wood floor.... what would be the best sole to have on the bottom of your dance
shoes? Probably suede or leather, so that you can slide your feet easily.
What if you wore rubber soles or soccer shoes? Could you dance and slide your feet
easily? or would you get hung up here and there? how would that affect your dancing?
your body? your joints?
The tolt is a gait wherein the horse is balancing his weight and the weight of his
rider on one foot at times. This, in itself, is quite stressful. Now to do it on ice,
seems like it would increase the stress.
For a breed with a high percentage of spavin, it may not be a good idea to use traction
devices, particularly with a horse whose gait includes a sliding of the foot.
Another consideration is the Horse Protection Act. This federal act protects horses
from being sored by any method. Concussion is a method of soring.
Racing (running, working horses on ice, whatever you want to call it)
ended a long time ago in the US. What about our respecting our own culture?
A horse's pounding front feet on hard surfaces is a recognized method of
"road founder", and can cause changes not immediately recognizable as
lameness, but challenges the integrity of the structure of the feet and
The Icelandic Horse is prone to spavin; why take a chance or initiate
this process sooner / faster by increasing the torque on the hind legs with
nails in the shoes?
The biggest consideration is the liability of someone, possibly a child, as a result
of seeing this type of show, taking their horse onto a lake or pond or other ice that
may not be as solid as that found in Iceland
and getting hurt, or drowning.