Racing needs innovation to stay relevant. This is the first in an ongoing series where we will highlight innovation in the industry which could have an impact to improve racing or the racing experience for owners or horseplayers.
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A 2002 story from Dressage Today highlights the history of horseshoeing. “Surprisingly, many varieties of shoes made today were found already in use in the U.S. during the 19th century.”
The practice of nailing some sort of metallic shoe to a horse dates into medieval times. An industry which seems ripe for innovation, and one company stepping forward into the breech is FormaHoof.
Founded and headquartered in Dubai, FormaHoof articulates its mission on its website:
“We believe in creating the most advanced equine podiatry solutions to completely revolutionize the hoof care industry. We are constantly focusing on innovating new products to provide comfort and support to the global equine community.”
But at its simplest, Co-founder and Equine Podiatrist Robert Stevenson says, “this is about bringing modern innovation to what is a mind-blowingly medieval technique still being used today to help horses recover from hoof issues and equine athletes perform at their best.”
“FormaHoof was created while trying to find a solution to help horses suffering from laminitis,” Stevenson says. “Over the past 25 years working as a farrier I tried different techniques and products, but I wasn’t able to find something that would generate repeatable results over and over again. I wanted to find a way to rebuild the architecture of the hoof that would provide comfort, protection and a stable environment for the hoof to heel and regrow.”
“Working with Jimmy Nicolaides from D2M Solutions, now the Managing Director of FormaHoof, we managed to develop a mold that is used to quickly rebuild the hoof, that provides the support and protection the hoof needs while it grows. The process is noninvasive, so there is no need to nail on a shoe to the hoof, and doesn’t damage the hoof. Once applied to the hoof you can immediately see the comfort level increase and a change in the horse’s behavior. The results are repeatable every time and because the application process is quick I can treat more horses within the day.”
South African trainer Mike de Kock, who has campaigned horses on five continents, uses FormaHoof on horses in need of a modern treatment.
“I must admit, at first I was probably a little skeptical, because at the end of the day, we are all steeped in history and there’s 500 years of horses being banged away with shoes, nails put in their feet and the expertise of a farrier. Once this came along and I saw for myself the effects of it - most horses are asymmetrical, long toes, no heels - and this system can correct it almost instantly. That sounds crazy, I know, but it’s something that has an effect and I’ve seen it with my own two eyes.
“Once FormaHoof was put on a horse, they started moving differently and better. It’s modern thinking and it’s got to be embraced by horsemen. At the end of the day, if I’m an owner, spending a lot of money purchasing horses, I want to see longevity, especially if it’s a horse with ability. Horses retiring at two or three are no good for the industry. I want horses racing at five, six and seven.”
The common refrain – “no hoof, no horse” – is generally well-understood. But a laundry list of hoof complications can keep horses away from races and training, or other breeds from competitions, for prolonged periods, increasing costs to owners.
“Even though we started to address laminitis, over the past few years of testing and using the FormaHoof mold, we identified that with one FormaHoof mold you can treat a wide range of hoof care issues such as laminitis, white line disease, hoof cracks, quarter cracks, thin soles, high/low syndrome, negative palmer angle, imbalanced hooves and other injuries,” Stevenson adds.
“FormaHoof helps manage the horses hoof and make sure that it supports and protects the hoof while in training and competing. If a horse’s hoof cracks, FormaHoof can stabilize the hoof and allow the horse to continue training and maintain fitness while the hoof crack grows out.
"Every horse has differences from one hoof to another, whether it is imbalanced, high/ low or have under run heels. These issues affect the horse’s posture and strain the muscles and ligaments that affect how horses perform. By rebuilding the hoof and correcting the angles and posture of the hoof you immediately release that tension/strain in the horse’s legs and see much better movement."
To learn more about FormaHoof, visit their website, or view their YouTube page with various videos showing its application and use.
Image courtesy FormaHoof