Horseshoes Enter the Copper Age

New York farrier shares advantages of copper alloy shoes

Esco Buff

Copper has a long, rich history with mankind.

It was the first metal to be used by humans, to be smelted from its ore and to be cast into a shape from a mold.

It also was the first metal to be intentionally alloyed with another metal — tin to create bronze.

“It’s a major industrial metal for exactly the same reasons why we would want to use it for horseshoes,” Webster, N.Y., farrier Esco Buff told attendees at the 2016 International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio. “They can be hammered thin. They have great malleability and thermal-electric conductors. They actually dissipate shock and rust.”

Yet, there’s an even greater reason to use copper for horseshoes, says the Kawell Horseshoes clinician.

“It has antimicrobial properties,” Buff says, “which we have confirmed with testing and research, and then through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

Bacteria Killer

Buff began using copper horseshoes when he shod horses for wedding parties in the late 1970s.

“It was always great to have a nice black draft horse’s foot all cleaned up, then nail on copper horseshoes with copper nails,” he recalls. “Nothing looks sexier than all that copper.”

Farrier Takeaways

Kawell’s claim that its copper alloy horseshoes kill 99% of bacteria on contact has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Alloying copper with other metals strengthens the shoes, allowing three or four resets.

Copper alloy shoes have a bit more spring when worked at the anvil, and respond favorably to traditional steel…

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Jeff cota 2023

Jeff Cota

Jeff Cota has been a writer, photographer and editor with newspapers and magazines for 30 years. A native of Maine, he is the Lead Content Editor of American Farriers Journal.

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