Steel horse shoes with polyurethane soles reduce risk of overloading front legs, findings suggest

Last Updated on April 5, 2022 by Allison Price

Study findings suggest that steel horseshoes may have a soft, polyurethane coating on the base to reduce overload in horses’ front legs.

Researchers wanted to compare steel shoes with soft polyurethane as a ground surface with traditional steel shoes.

Lauren Veneta Moore used four horses that were used in Vienna, Austria for carriage driving, to study with her colleagues.

Landau carriages are common in Vienna, where there are cobbled streets, asphalt and concrete. They are also drawn by two-horse teams.

These carriage horses are most likely to wear steel shoes that have anti-slip features such as toe grabs and studs.

After nailing a steel foot to the hoof, the polyurethane soles were attached to the steel shoe’s ground surface with screws.

Two horses were fitted with grabs and pins when the traditional steel shoes were being tested. Two horses had pins and grabs, and two horses had pins and no grabs at the toe.

To measure the acceleration of the hooves while trotting on asphalt tracks, an accelerometer was attached to the front. This track was intended to simulate a city street. The animals were allowed to walk at the speed they chose.The acceleromter’s position. Photo: Moore et al. 

Steel Horse Shoes  Polyurethane Soles

Researchers found that the shoes with polyurethane soles had less deceleration when landing. They also felt more acceleration when they were pushed off the ground.

They said that the speed of the front and hind hooves was similar when the shoe was covered with polyurethane, but that the front hooves experienced a harder acceleration than the hind hooves when the shoe was made from steel.

“Finally with the softer shoes horses trotted quicker and with longer strides than the steel shoes,” they reported to the open-access journal Animals.

The distribution of accelerations between forelimbs and hindlimbs was more evenly distributed by the polyurethane shoes than with steel shoes.

This indicates that shoes made of polyurethane may help reduce the overload in horses’ front limbs.

Researchers noted that while trotting speed varied, the number motion cycles required for each length did not differ significantly.

“Horses made slower strides when they were shod in steel shoes than when they were shod in polyurethane shoes.”

“It would have been interesting to link this finding with the comfort the horses experienced while trotting with either one of the shoe types. Unfortunately, the current study didn’t investigate this important, but complex question.”

Lauren Veneta Moore and Theresia Frankiska Licka, both from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, and Rebeka Rozaz Zsoldos from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences also in Vienna, formed the study team.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!