No Nails Required: The New Era of Horseshoeing
For about five hundred years, give or take, humans have been protecting horses’ hooves and giving their animals traction by nailing on shoes. And for just as long (presumably) horses have had their hooves damaged by those nails, whether simply because slowly-growing horn racked up too many holes from back-to-back shoeings, or because a “hot nail” hit sensitive laminae within the hoof.
Horseshoes are often seen as a necessary evil. Sure, we’d all love to have our horses barefoot — it would hurt less when they step on our toes, and cause less headaches when a horse with back shoes kicks a neighbor in the pasture. And it would also reduce the potential for damage or infection caused by an errant nail.
Increasingly, inventors are stepping up to the plate with new versions of glue-on shoes, offering similar traction and protection as metal shoes, but adding in the benefits of padding, support, and even the chance to accessorize your horseshoes to match your barn colors.
Aluminum-urethane hybrid shoes made by Soundhorse Technologies are one such glue-on shoe. They include polyurethane rim pads with an aluminum tread on the bottom, giving a horse both traction and shock absorbing relief. The cuff-shape wraps around the hoof wall, offering full protection to damaged toes or hoof wall. And there are specific models for foals, young horses, and laminitis cases, as well. The acrylic that holds the shoe on reaches midway up the hoof-wall, but Soundhorse also offers colored pigment to brighten up all that glue. Play it straight with black or go wild with hot pink or lime green. (More information: www.soundhorse.com)
Less acrylic and more urethane, the GluShu has tabs to wrap around the horse’s hoof walls in a style reminiscent of the original Easyboot. The GluShu also uses an aluminum shoe base, well-cushioned to provide support to sore feet. But instead of using traditional farrier’s epoxy as an adhesive, which takes some time to dry, GluShu has its own glue which dries in about three minutes. And GluShus come in some fashion-forward colors, including neons pink and lemon-yellow. They’re currently only available in the UK, but check their online store for more information. (More information: www.glushu.com)
And from the creators of the Easyboot, which pioneered shoeless hoof protection, Easy Care Inc. offers the EasyShoe, which comes in Performance, Sport, Performance N/G, and Compete models. These flexible shoes can take a while to apply to the hoof, but offer traction and support, including vertical flexion in the heel, offering the heel an opportunity to grow — an action often suppressed by traditional horseshoes. Several offer full frog support, and the EasyShoe Compete is so light and thin, it looks almost like a racing plate. But sorry, equestrian fashionistas: these shoes only come in plain black and natural colors. (More information: www.easycareinc.com)
Glue-on horseshoes have seen incredible progress in the past twenty years and are growing in popularity. Are they right for your horse? And if so — what color will you choose?