Non-Metal Horseshoes: Knowing Why to Use Them is as Important as Knowing How

Flexibility, concussion dampening among benefits touted by developers and users of these products

While non-metal horseshoes may never make up a huge share of the overall market, they have carved out a well-established niche that is substantial enough that it makes sense for farriers to know how and when to use them.

Gary Werner, an experienced farrier from Smithtown, N.Y., believes it is as important to know why you might want to use a particular non-metal shoe as it is to know how.

“You really need to think about why you want to use these,” says Werner. “There are benefits to using these shoes, but some are going to be better for certain situations than others.”

Generally, non-metal horseshoes are used for one of, or a combination of reasons, including:

  • To protect ground surfaces or footing, such as paved streets, sound stages, etc.
  • To reduce concussion or vibrations from levels associated with metal.
  • For weight reduction.
  • For increased hoof flexibility.
  • In therapeutic situations, particularly when a lightweight, glue-on alternative is preferred.
  • In performance or racing situations, when a horse is not able to compete in metal shoes.
  • As an “in-between” approach when an owner prefers that a horse be barefoot, but finds that it needs some form of protection or support.

Werner developed a specialty with non-metal horseshoes while providing hoof care for horses used in performances at places like Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan, where steel shoes couldn’t be used on expensive stages.

But while he might have started using the shoes to protect expensive wooden floors, he…

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Pat tearney

Pat Tearney

Pat Tearney is a long-term newspaper and magazine veteran writer and editor. Before retiring, he served for a number of years on the American Farriers Journal staff and continues to share his writing talents with our readers.

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