January 26, 2020 3:17 AM   Subscribe

Horse shoeing with Formahoof. [YouTube] Developed by horse podiatrists to restructure damaged hooves, Formahoof has evolved into a hybrid shoeing method for horses that can be adapted to various uses without requiring nails or traditional shoes.
posted by Burhanistan (30 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Pony blue.

(Somebody's overlooking an opportunity to start a horse pedicure business here.)
posted by ardgedee at 3:22 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]

I could listen to this guy say "hoof" for hours.
posted by darksasami at 3:48 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]

What's also neat is around 18:15 in the video Stevenson (Formahoof guy) shot some slo-mo on his phone of the horse trotting around and reviewed it on site to check to see how balanced the new shoes were.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:23 AM on January 26 [2 favorites]

Farriers have the craziest job ever. It's not like horses don't freak out and decide to kick the shit out of the person messing with their feet once in a while.

Also I am *wrecked* that this is not a .horse domain. What are tlds even for, people
posted by phooky at 4:43 AM on January 26 [8 favorites]

That was fascinating to watch and it seems like a neat technology. It was interesting how the horse just stood there and seemed to pay no attention to the foot-lifting and rasping and mold-application and so on, until the metal shoe got nailed on at the end. That must feel weird to the horse, having someone bang away on the bottom of your feet.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:46 AM on January 26

This is very cool! I have a friend who rescued an abused pony with severely neglected hooves about a year ago. It has been a long, tough road back, and a top-notch farrier has been key to Honey Bear’s recovery—when rescued she could barely walk. Folks (like me) with limited horse exposure don’t know just how important—and vulnerable—hooves are. Good to know technology is lending a hand, er, hoof.

PS Honey Bear is doing great now, and loves defeating her paddock lock and chasing her family’s three Samoyeds around.
posted by kinnakeet at 6:56 AM on January 26 [13 favorites]

Fascinating video. I didn't quite have eighteen minutes to give, so I scanned around a bit. If you'll forgive me that, can someone clarify... in the end, shows are still nailed on, but into the Formahoof, not into the horse's actual hoof?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:12 AM on January 26

“horse podiatrist” absolutely does not sound like it should be a real job, but I’m thrilled to learn that it is.
posted by nonasuch at 7:22 AM on January 26

The nails do go through the urethane and into the hoof. However, the Formahoofs can be also used without shoes/rims. Lots of racehorses train barefoot and then only race with shoes.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:24 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]

It was interesting how the horse just stood there and seemed to pay no attention to the

I can assure you this is not always the case and it is far more 'interesting' when horsie does the opposite. #foottrimmerbutnotfarrier
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:12 AM on January 26 [5 favorites]

I have friends in Ventura, CA who do this, or something like it. It is very hard work, and they DO get kicked sometimes, but they love horses and love the job and do very well. They are a husband and wife team. They are at if anyone or their horse is interested.
posted by mermayd at 8:16 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]

Do any horse people know what wild horses do when there's nobody there to take care of their hooves?
posted by schroedinger at 8:28 AM on January 26

Do any horse people know what wild horses do when there's nobody there to take care of their hooves?
posted by schroedinger at 11:28 AM on January 26 [+] [!]

A lot of horse hoof problems are from having to walk on gravel and asphalt. Wild horses don't have that issue. They also travel dozens of miles a day, whereas stable horses go long periods of time being still. Traveling extensive distances ever day over soft-ish surfaces is enough to keep the hoof trimmed down but not damaged.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:53 AM on January 26 [14 favorites]

Climate, biome, and geology matter a lot too. Wild horses manage pretty well on the dry steppes and similar areas to which they are adapted, but soft, wet terrain (eg most pastures) often doesn’t wear down their hooves at the appropriate pace and also creates the potential for a lot of fungal problems. Shoeing and/or other hoof care measures are necessary to combat those issues.
posted by jedicus at 9:29 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]

Remind me, or keep me from repeating an inaccuracy:
Horse limbs, bone-anatomy-wise, are technically 'fingers', rather than arms/legs/hands/feet, and hooves are adapted super heavy duty fingernails. So horses are prancing around on their fingertips all the time, and this is about a new tool for giving better hooficures.
posted by bartleby at 9:54 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]

hooves are adapted super heavy duty fingernails. So horses are prancing around on their fingertips all the time

So basically, this.
posted by jzb at 10:00 AM on January 26 [7 favorites]

I've never given much thought to horses or horse care, so it's entirely possible that my reaction to this product is flawed; but when I watched the video I was surprised that someone hadn't come up with this "hoof replacement/augmentation" concept a long time ago - like, decades at least. Nevertheless it's pretty cool.
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:07 AM on January 26

Horse limbs, bone-anatomy-wise, are technically 'fingers',

Yeah, in the homologous structures comparing horses to humans, the "ankle" of the horse directly above the hoof is comparable to the knuckles of your fingers - the joint that connects your phalanges to your metacarpals. Both hooves and fingernails are composed of keratin.
posted by FirstMateKate at 11:25 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]

Trucks, cars, bikes, shoes, and now horses as microplastic sources?
posted by anthill at 1:45 PM on January 26

and this is about a new tool for giving better hooficures.

I know there is obviously a lot more involved, but they do look like gel manicures for horses.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 1:47 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

There’s so much shiny show pony power potential here that will bloom soon enough.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:16 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]

How funny, I just watched Horses are Very Weird by Hank Green (in his recent weird animals series). About 2:22 he talks about how weird their legs and feet are.

Also, ow ow my back. Just watching him bent over the foot like that. Ow.
posted by Glinn at 3:37 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

About 2:22 he talks about how weird their legs and feet are.

If you have young kids, I recommend you show them that video and have them try to walk on their big toes and fingers. Five minutes of worthwhile entertainment. ;-)
posted by johnxlibris at 5:02 PM on January 26 [2 favorites]

I didn't see how they accounted for hoof growth inside the armature. Hooves are more or less conical, the smaller end of which is at the coronary band. As the hoof grows, the diameter at the distal end gets larger. But the size of the shoe remains the same. Tight shoes can be a problem for horses the same way they are for people.

You'll remember how, when your farrier shows up to redo Old Nell (who hasn't had her shoes replaced for about two months), her old shoes had not worn down much, and her hoof actually overlapped the shoe. That shoe is squeezing the soft inner stuff in her hoof, because it's trying to keep the hoof from expanding as it grows.

So, either the hoof has room to expand inside the formahoof boot, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, then the boot must be recast every couple of months (or six weeks, depending on the rate of growth). Otherwise the soft tissue inside the horn will be affected, and eventually distorted. One of the more common effects of tight shoes is "contracted heels." Okay, there are other things that cause contracted heels, too, but I'm just saying.

The horse in the video had a seriously flawed front left hoof, so the formahoof looked to be a great solution for the damaged quarter, and the structural problem (the low heel). I just didn't get the part where they were able to inspect the live sole for a recurrence of thrush, as well as how the new boot accommodated the change in the distal size of the hoof. The farrier cleaned out and disinfected most of what was visible on the sole. But, since thrush is an anaerobic little critter, as soon as you put the plate on, it wakes up and starts munching on the foot. In that hoof, it was clear that not all the thrush had been eliminated. However, you'll notice that once the hoof had been cleaned, the farrier never let it touch the ground until after the appliance had been put in place.

I take it these farriers are competent, so I'm just saying I had some issues with the presentation. For one thing, this appliance is a device to put horses back in service before the injury or deformation is properly healed. For example, that chip out of the demonstration mare's hoof looked to be about four or five months away from growing back to normal; and that's not addressing it's cause.

I am always wary of miracle appliances. Almost every single thing that can go wrong with a horse can have a variety of causes. Laminitis, for example, can result from conditions that range from hot feed (typical in performance horses) to emotional stress (also more common in performance horses than in your everyday saddle horse). It's treatment also includes assessing the diet, as well as devising a schedule of trims, shoes, and physical rehab. The skilled farriers I knew (back in the day) were the kind to apply innovation to deeply held tradition. That's because of the tremendously subtle variety of hooves and the critters to which they are attached. Sometimes their innovations turn out to be less than useless.

By the way, that guy wringing off the nails with his shoeing hammer is taking a shortcut that doesn't always turn out well. He didn't set tension on the nails with a clinch bar, so I assume he somehow knew that the nails all had the same amount of tension on them. That's an issue, especially with endurance horses or pack station animals that travel over rough ground. If one or two nails are tighter than the others they can pop the clinch, or even the nail, and that can result in a cast shoe. You know: for want of a nail the shoe was lost....and so on.

Never give an old farrier an excuse to tell stories. I'll spend the rest of the day mumbling to myself, recounting tales about all the mules I've loved before.
posted by mule98J at 11:28 AM on January 27 [12 favorites]

The video says the Formahoofs last about a month or so depending on strides and terrain before needed to be redone. Which, I suppose means these are problematic from the standpoint of urethane bits ground into the soil.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:13 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]

Oh god, I read this as Horse Shooting and was momentarily appalled.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 12:16 PM on January 27 [1 favorite]

I've seen this used on some mini horse rescues I follow on Instagram, but didn't know the name of it. Fascinating! I found the foal conformation interventions especially interesting. Hooves are important and expensive and scary.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:45 PM on January 27

Never give an old farrier an excuse to tell stories.
That was awesome, mule98J. One of the best things about MeFi is when an expert shows up to explain something in depth. I did wonder about infection in an airtight appliance like that. Thank you for the farrier primer! (One of my fave FB sites is The Donkey Sanctuary).
posted by Glinn at 12:07 PM on January 28

Here's an older vid showing the Formahoof removal after 5 weeks, with exceptional looking (I think?) hooves revealed.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:05 PM on February 25

(Whoops, here's that link.)
posted by Burhanistan at 5:09 PM on February 25

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