The Trade Show at this winter’s International Hoof-Care Summit in Cincinnati, Ohio, was the biggest one I’ve seen in this industry in many years. Some 106 suppliers displayed hundreds of their products in 142 exhibit spaces for a record crowd of 925 Summit attendees.

While Summit attendees checked out the latest footcare products and services during 9 hours of uninterrupted Trade Show time, the biggest surprise for me was the large number of suppliers selling their own brand of horseshoe nails.

A decade or so ago, there were only two or three manufacturers selling horseshoe nails in North America. But during several treks through the Summit Trade Show, I spotted 11 firms with their own brand of nails. In addition, there are several other brands of nails on the world-wide market that weren’t represented at this year’s Summit.

The 14 brands of nails I checked out at the Summit are manufactured in the U.S., Sweden, Italy, Holland, China, Pakistan, India, Columbia and probably a few other countries I don’t know about.

In the 21 years that we’ve published American Farriers Journal and our 10 years of producing the International Hoof-Care Summit, we’ve seen several horseshoe nail manufacturing firms come into the market and later disappear. It’s a tough, highly competitive market, yet there always seems like there’s someone who thinks they can produce a high quality nail at a lower price.

Time will tell which of these more than a dozen nail brands will still be with us 5 years from now. Along with adequate distribution, availability, sizes and styles, the key is turning out a top quality nail that pleases farriers working with many different types of horses in many different equine disciplines that range all the way from backyard horses to the Olympics.