Did you know that metal shoes for horses were first forged by the Romans in 100BC? And that today, the vast majority of horseshoe products on the market directly resemble these early copper shoes? Two thousand years ago, nailed-on, two dimensional shoes were at the cutting edge of hoof care technology. But in today’s three-dimensional world, where even teenagers are designing and 3D printing products in their own homes, one company has set about bringing horseshoeing into a three-dimensional, 21st Century world: FormaHoof.
FormaHoof is a 3D system that not only provides the surface protection of a traditional 2D horseshoe, but also provides 3D support for the entire hoof and, consequently, to the horse’s entire biomechanical system.
Why should we consider moving away from nailed-on metal horseshoes?
The hoof is nature’s perfectly designed appendage. It supports the strength and weight of the horse as it naturally flexes and moves to absorb strain and promote blood flow, as it forms part of a healthy vascular system. If you have seen a cross section on the hoof, the very tight margin of error and skill required to successfully nail a shoe to the hoof are clear to see. The modern-day life of horses necessitates the use of a hoof protection system, since, more often than not, they operate in environments outside that which the natural hoof has developed for.
No one can dispute the fact that two dimensional, nailed on horseshoes have had their place. They have protected our horse’s hooves for centuries, allowing them to go further, for longer. But they also have many disadvantages: Traditional nailed-on horseshoes compromise the structural integrity of the hoof wall, that is, they make it weaker and liable to crack. They also increase concussion up the horse’s limbs: the rigidity of a metal shoe means there is no impact absorption, and the frog is no longer where it is meant to be: in contact with the ground. And when it comes to a horse with hoof disease or injury, the limitations of two-dimensional horseshoes put up an abrupt and often pain-filled wall.
Are boots and glue-on’s a good alternative to nailed on horseshoes?
Alternatives such as hoof boots and glue-on’s are available on the market, but these also are not particularly innovative, as the Romans produced the first “boots” or “Hipposandals” back in the BC days.
The theory behind boots is good. You can put them on when you need them while providing protection to the horse’s hoof and a degree of impact absorption. However, can you imagine trying to run with a loose running shoe that is gathering dirt and contaminants along the way? Doesn’t sound comfortable, right? This is exactly how our horses feel with a less than perfectly fitted hoof boot.
And when it comes to glue-on’s, the industrial adhesives required to keep a glue-on shoe in place can do untold damage to the hoof during removal, whether this is accidental or intentional.
All these products have one thing in common. They try to tackle a three-dimensional problem with a two-dimension approach, completely missing out on the opportunity and benefits that an extra, third dimension offers to the horse.
The three-dimensional difference
FormaHoof was designed from the ground up to do one thing very well; to mimic the natural biomechanics of a completely healthy hoof, while providing additional protection and support to the horse’s own natural hoof.
The engineers behind the design understood that if you were to support a three-dimensional flexible structure such as a hoof, you needed an approach which matched its performance and real-world characteristics. By harnessing the expertise of equine hoof care practitioners (vets, farriers & podiatrists) and combining this with the most up to date 3D technology, FormaHoof has created a completely new approach to horseshoeing that combines advanced materials and usability with an application process that is highly efficient and repeatable.
3D – adding a new dimension to injury and disease rehabilitation
When looking at existing hoof rehab treatments, we often see that they adopt a progressive approach, dealing with one issue, crack, or problem at a time. This may work if the damage is superficial, but it leaves space for other issues to worsen in the meantime. FormaHoof allows you to treat multiple problems at the same time, with one innovative overall solution which can not only help to achieve healthier hooves, but also allow muscles, tendons, and ligaments to benefit from the adjusted hoof aliment.
Francisco Benardoni, horse owner & farm manager at leading US Polo centre Cotterel Polo Farms, comments “It seems to us that by putting the horses at the correct hoof angles, coupled with the increased blood flow in the hoof thanks to FormaHoof, we can achieve faster recovery times. We also put one of our homebreds, Moonshine, in FormaHoof to help heal a tendon issue. Within 12 weeks not only did we see an improvement in the tendon, but we noticed she developed bigger shoulder muscles than she had prior.”
Education and progress in a modern, post-pandemic world
Two years into a global pandemic, it’s clear to see that the way things we are doing things is changing. Unfortunately for many horses, change cannot happen fast enough, as changing mindsets and skillsets can be a challenge in the equine world.
Thankfully, modern technology is providing the answer as online training tools can offer full education on the benefits of FormaHoof’s new 3D shoeing technology and the process by which exceptional results are achieved.
Sven Targett, farrier & FormaHoof Certified Applicator in Perth, Australia comments ‘FormaHoof has excellent online training modules which are accessible for owners and farriers alike. If you, as an owner, decide to go ahead with FormaHoof, make sure you give your farrier access to the training. FormaHoof is a real game-changer in the way that we can approach our rehabilitation plans, helping these wonderful equine athletes to live long and productive lives after racing and I’m so happy to be able to offer FormaHoof as a solution, not only to our clients but their horses as well.’
With the FormaHoof system, owners and professionals alike can educate themselves and learn more about the possibilities FormaHoof provides to horses, with a wealth of free online resources and an exceptionally supportive and informative online community in the FormaHoof Experience Exchange Group. Additionally, the FormaHoof team is always on hand to assist and help and there is a team of experts available to provide independent consultations for owners.
A question of cost
FormaHoof provides a unique solution at a very competitive price. Over the last two years, prices have been reduced as economies of scale are reached and the product is highly competitive when compared to other alternative shoeing methods, even though FormaHoof should not really be compared to any of the 2-dimensional products on the market as it will have a far greater impact and success rate in resolving hoof related problems.
As with many services, sometimes the charges quoted to apply FormaHoof are far more than they should be and then, unfortunately, it is the horses that suffer. The material cost going into a single application for 2 feet should not exceed 150 – 200 USD for a large horse. And although the mold cost is greater, as it is reusable up to 100 times, the per-use cost of the mold is small. FormaHoof recommends that owners should consider purchasing their own materials and agree with their hoof care provider a charge for their trimming and application service.
Andrea White, a horse owner in Canada comments ‘It really is cost effective. Not just on the hoof, but less pain medication and faster recovery. Both factor into the overall cost of recovery. Happier horse. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Find someone that will work WITH you for your horse. Those that are overcharging aren’t in it for the horse. Buy your own kit. That way you have it for future use. Can’t say enough good things about this product.’
Since its foundation, FormaHoof has crossed language barriers, shipped to over 50 countries across six continents and nearly tripled the number of horses benefiting from three-dimensional hoof protection and support, year on year. There’s one simple fact behind this – passionate equestrians are looking for a true solution to hoof problems, not just a “band-aid”. Horse owners, vets, farriers, and trimmers who took the leap of faith and trusted in FormaHoof have been amply rewarded with measurable results, in remarkable, unprecedented timeframes.
Are you ready to step into the third dimension?
For more information on FormaHoof and how it could help your horse achieve greater levels of comfort and performance, see www.FormaHoof.com