Horse Kicks: decadent and depraved

Lace ‘em and brace ‘em, we’re going racin’. WFlore via Pixabay

Designer sneakers for horses may be the new tiny dog in a purse

Consider the average horse owner. In the United States, there are about 7.25 million horses (all statistics taken from About 1.6 million households in the US own horses. Out of all US households, only around 1.3 per cent own horses.

Over 60 per cent of horse owners work in managerial positions. The vast majority of horse owners, 92.6 per cent, are women. Most people keep horses for recreational purposes.

The majority of all horse owners in the US earn an annual income over $100,000. The average annual cost of owning a horse is about $7,896 USD. As of 2021, the average American horse owner owns six horses, and 73 per cent of horse owners expected to own the same number of horses in 2022.

Owning a horse is expensive as hell, and most horse owners own more than one. In the USA, most horses are kept for recreational purposes. A large minority of the horses in the USA are show horses or racehorses. The cost of these horses is astronomical compared to recreational horses.

In 1949, the French philosopher George Bataille published a book called The Accursed Share: An Essay on General Economy. Bataille argues that living organisms ordinarily receive more energy than they require to maintain themselves. This excess energy manifests as “wealth.” The same goes for human economies.

Wealth is reinvested into the economy for it to grow even larger. But, Bataille says, “if the system can no longer grow, or if the excess cannot be completely absorbed in its growth, it must necessarily be lost without profit; it must be spent, willingly or not, gloriously or catastrophically.” This excess wealth that is consumed with a reckless abandon Bataille calls the “accursed share.” In 21st-century North America, are horses and their pageantry not a part of this accursed share?

For 147 years, the Kentucky Derby has been held annually in Louisville. Each year, people from around the world attend and bet on the horse races. The Derby is notorious for its indulgent entertainments. Hunter S. Thompson reported on the Kentucky Derby in 1970. His essay “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved” is a carnivalesque retelling of his weekend at the Kentucky Derby. The title does not mislead. The Kentucky Derby is rife with all manner of drunken debauchery and gambling.

To add to this conspicuous consumption, now horse owners can buy sneakers for their horses. Horse Kicks is a sneaker retailer that makes popular brand name sneakers for horses. The project is the work of Marcus Floyd, a shoe artist based in Lexington, Kentucky. The debut collection of Horse Kicks includes Court Purple Jordan 1, New Balance 650, and Yeezy Boost 350.

In an interview with, Floyd wrote that Horse Kicks “are wearable art designed over a medical horse boot and covered with repurposed sneakers.” He describes the project as one of his “craziest collaborations to date.” He went on to describe how he realized his concept: “It was a dope process trying to figure out what a horse sneaker would look like while using as much from the ‘REAL’ shoe as possible.”

Each sneaker’s starting price is $1,200 USD, and the debut collection will be sold at a black-tie event for charity. In an interview with Sneaker Freaker, Floyd said: “The Sneaker Ball Lex is an upscale event where black-tie formality meets sneaker culture. This year’s ball invites 250 diverse young professionals, entrepreneurs, and creatives. The Horse Kicks collection will be donated and auctioned off during this year’s ball. The event benefits Lex Project Prom, a minority organisation that helps under-resourced students go to prom, and the Sneakers with Everything Project, Inc., a non-profit organisation that uses sneaker culture to provide support to underserved BIPOC students.”

Horse sneakers. No one can blame you for scratching your head, furrowing your brow, and, with a sigh, asking, “Why?” To which Hunter S. Thompson replies “Why not? Money is a good thing to have in these twisted times.”

Regarding horse sneakers, several equestrians and horse veterinarians did not respond to requests for comment.


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