Updated on 05/16/2014 9:35AM

Special shoes keep California Chrome's feet comfy

Barbara D. Livingston
California Chrome was having trouble with his heels until a blacksmith suggested using glue-on shoes affixed with nails.

CYPRESS, Calif. -- With white hooves on all four feet, Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome always has needed a little extra attention to hoof care, and his trainer, Art Sherman, said blacksmith Judd Fisher came up with a unique solution. California Chrome races in glue-on shoes, but the shoes are not glued on, they are affixed with nails.

The shoe, not the glue, is the reason, Sherman said. The shoes that California Chrome wears “help so he doesn’t go back on his heels,” Sherman said.

::2014 PREAKNESS STAKES: Latest news, video, and more

“All horses with four white feet are prone to needing more care because of the lack of pigmentation. The hoofs can be shellier,” Sherman said this weekend at Los Alamitos, where he is overseeing his local stable before heading to Pimlico this week for the Preakness Stakes. “It takes more effort to keep them in shape.

“We’re always working on his feet. Horses with white hooves, they have a tendency to have problems if you don’t keep up with them.”

Sherman said that California Chrome was having trouble with his heels last year at age 2. According to Sherman, Fisher liked the way the padding in the glue-on shoes he prefers raised the heels of California Chrome’s hooves. So Fisher buys glue-on shoes, and then drills holes in the shoes so they can be affixed with nails.

“We could see he needed a little help, nothing major,” Sherman said. “You have to trust your blacksmith. It was Judd’s idea. You’ve got to let the experts do it. If you have a gut feeling it might be the right situation, you have to go for it.”

Sherman said Fisher shoes all the horses in his barn. “He’s a young, strong kid,” Sherman said.

Fisher was at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. “He didn’t want to miss it,” Sherman said. “He’d never been.”

California Chrome was freshly shod prior to the Derby. Since he is shod every 30 days, Sherman said, he will not need fresh plates for the Preakness.

It’s a labor-intensive process, but there’s no denying the results so far. Sherman said California Chrome started being shod in this fashion after he won the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park on Dec. 22. That was the start of what is now a five-race win streak, so he has worn the new shoes for four races, including the Derby.

“This is new for me. But it must’ve worked. You can’t say I’m old-fashioned about everything,” Sherman said, laughing.

A previous version of this article misstated the name of California Chrome's blacksmith. It is Judd Fisher, not Judd Smith.



Tiena Joyal More than 1 year ago
White hooves are no different than black, my paint has all white hooves and he's got amazing feet. These people have no idea about hooves...
Gotta QHFilly More than 1 year ago
Pink skin is one thing. That horse has raw marks and abrasions. That right hind is so bull nosed and the heel is flat. Look at the heel on the other hoof. BAD FARRIER WORK.
Brenda Hines More than 1 year ago
This makes me sick. This horse is winning on class and heart, DESPITE the horrendous farrier work. Are you people BLIND as well as stupid? My God, he's even rubbed raw by his bandages! You owners and trainers should be ASHAMED!
Deb Olivas More than 1 year ago
Brenda , can you not see the horse has just been bathed? he is light skinned , that is his skin showing thru wet hair, not rubbed raw. His feet and shoes look great and correct. the only person who should be ashamed here is you. At least get least some experience before you make such erroneous remarks.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
your remarks are not only incorrect they show complete ignorance. there is nothing wrong with the picture only with your inexperienced eyes. I see a well shod horse with wet ankle's and his skin showing through the fur. Actually have seen it up close on a horse I owned who had 4 white socks.
Sue Pollard More than 1 year ago
Brenda, it looks like they may have used a product my Vet recommends, a poultice of sorts called Numotizing (sp)? You are very opinionated, rude, and wrong.
Art Brown More than 1 year ago
These horse shoes aren't AIR JORDANS. He's going to lose badly Saturday.
FromHorsesMouth More than 1 year ago
Great idea! Nothing wrong with a little cushion. Think of running shoes.
Caitlin Last More than 1 year ago
The white hooves thing is an old wives tale. My arab's white hoof is his BEST hoof.
Art Brown More than 1 year ago
Go home Chrome after losing Saturday. You ain't worth all the talk.
Theresa Sturgeon More than 1 year ago
Guess he showed you!

Gibson Farm More than 1 year ago
This horse has problems because he has been over work at 2 yrs of age. Nothing to do with white feet. Horses' orthopedic structure does not mature until age 6. Kinda hard to refer to a person as a blacksmith when using what I presume is a plastic glue on shoe ? Geez.... All the money and resources in the world and y'all post an article full of convoluted information. No wonder the horse world is all screwed up.
derbylady More than 1 year ago
Per the article, the shoes are nailed on, not glued, tho they're designed as a glue-on.
Sue Pollard More than 1 year ago
I have used synthetic shoes on a mare I rode at a Sale Yard on concrete every week for years-she is still sound at 15 yrs. I say whatever works!
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
I think this hoof article is much ado about nothing. do you think Secretariat & Seattle Slew gave a ***** what kind of shoes they had on? if the horse is in the same league of legends, I think they will shine no matter what.
Crystal Naylor More than 1 year ago
That's bunk! Nieces both have horses with white hooves and they are barefoot. We do trails over all terrain and they are never sore!
Shannon Long More than 1 year ago
I agree..Its a total myth that white feet are less strong..Tb's have bad feet in general. I have a TB with black feet I cant keep shoes on, and a grey Warmblood with amazing white feet!