When the Rubber Hits the Road

Here’s how rubber shoes match up with other shoe materials and the unshod hoof

For years, farriers, veterinarians and researchers have tried to minimize the stress and potential damage from the hoof’s impact with the ground. 

One of the alternatives that always seems to come up is evaluating materials other than metal for making horseshoes. 

Any new shoe material needs to not only protect the hoof, but improve the horse’s action, provide a good grip and offer plenty of shock absorption with different activities and surfaces. An extensive knowledge of biomechanics is also required to fully understand the demands that have to be met in order to develop any new type of highly functional shoe.

When the Swedish manufacturer of the Ollov Original rubber horseshoe, Ab Halmstads Gummifabrik, set out to find an alternative, they decided not to compare their product to other shoes, but to the unshod hoof for optimal hoof protection. Marketed as the Ollov Original, the shoe has a 5-millimeter interior steel core with a 9-millimeter rubber cover layer.

While the development of this rubber horseshoe was still in its infancy in the early 1990s, the manufacturer commissioned a research study at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Uppsala, Sweden. It was carried out by Christopher Johnston, DVM, PhD; Stig Drevemo, DVM, PhD; Lars Roepstorff, DVM, PhD; and Uno Yaklinten, PhD.

The extensive study looked at the impact of the shoe on the gait of the horse with different ground surfaces, expansion of the hoof at the heels and development of forces between the hoof and the ground.

“We saw…

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Frank lessiter

Frank Lessiter

Frank Lessiter has spent more than 50 years in the agricultural and equine publishing business. The sixth generation member to live on the family’s Centennial farm in Michigan, he is the Editor/Publisher of American Farriers Journal.

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