New developments in equine shoeing
New developments in equine shoeing have seen a rise in benefits associated with the Polyurethane shoe over traditional metal shoes, however those benefits seam to have not been fully realised amongst the equine community within the UK and there is only limited availability.
Researchers at the Utrecht University carried out a study using accelerometers, to measure the vertical, horizontal and forward/backward forces placed on the hooves. They used twelve Warmblood horses, which they trotted over a tarmac surface; barefoot, wearing steel shoes or wearing polyurethane shoes. The data showed that the maximum peak forces were significantly lower when the horses were wearing polyurethane shoes.
Dressage – enhances the comfort of the horse and promotes circulation in the hoof for better health
Endurance – prevents soreness and keeps the horse sound and comfortable by evenly distributing the weight
Carriage driving – keeps horses sound and slip-free on the road, also allows natural movement
Therapeutic - successfully used for treating various soundness problems from mild sore-footedness to catastrophic founder cases.
Advantages over traditional metal shoe
Provide more shock absorption which may help protect the joints of the horse's lower limb.
Aids in the prevention and recuperation of damaged joints
Shoe can flex with the hoof
Provides natural support while avoiding any pressure points on the frog or sole.
Helps horses suffering from conditions such as navicular syndrome, laminitis, sore soles, heel pain, poor wall quality, and other hoof problems.
Effective as a glue-on shoe or a traditional nail-on shoe. The use of glue is often recommended in therapeutic situations - the glue spreads the load evenly around the hoof.
No special tools are needed by the Farrier
Reduces the acceleration occurring in the hoof wall during impact.
Provides even better shock absorbing properties than the unshod hoof.
Reduces shocks and vibrations, thus keeping the horse’s locomotor apparatus sound
The Frog is Supported - Traditional shoes lift the frog off the ground unnaturally. This prevents the normal action of the frog. Often the frog eventually descends to find the ground, causing internal structures to descend with it, resulting in flat feet, remodeling of the pedal bone, and a deteriorated digital cushion. As with a barefoot horse, the polyurethane shoe lets the frog contact and bears some weight.
Shock Absorbs better than Metal - The polyurethane shoe acts as a shock absorber for your horse. This is important for horses on hard ground, rocks, or endurance or street use.
Allows the Hoof to Flex - Unlike metal shoes, which restrict and impede the hoof from flexing, the Polyurethane shoe allows the whole hoof to flex, much like a barefoot horse, this aids in pumping blood and yields a healthier foot.
Nail Damage can be Reduced or Avoided - The Polyurethane shoe was designed so that it can be glued on the horse’s foot as an alternative to nailing. It can also be nailed like a conventional shoe, but to avoid the nail damage to the hoof wall the glue option is available.
Lightweight - Much lighter than metal shoes, the Polyurethane shoe is a good compromise between the natural barefoot horse and the steel shod horse. By being lightweight it allows your horse to move with more natural biomechanics.
 Reference: "Synthetic shoes attenuate hoof impact in the trotting Warmblood horse," Equine and Comparative Exercise Physiology, August 2006.