The HoofArmor Niche
So, what is HoofArmor good for? Where does it fit in? When I first designed HoofArmor around 1999, the concept was to be a replacement for horseshoes because I wanted something that wouldn’t fall off. I had a client’s horse whose hind feet were so wet from being in a tie stall that nothing I could do would keep the shoes on. Horseshoes had a habit of falling off, particularly if the horses were in muddy fields and hoof boots were struggling to stay on in any environment then. I felt bad about any of my client’s horses losing a shoe particularly if they didn’t bother to look for that shoe which was laying in the pasture, like a landmine with the nails sticking up.
HoofArmor started out as a protection for the bottom of the hoof wall, just like a horseshoe. As I observed what the horses and hooves were doing with my trimming I realized the key to improvements in hoof care had to do with not the hoof wall, but the sole. I listened to and read about researchers who studied mustangs and one thing stuck in my mind. Of all the mustangs studied at Bureau of Land Management facilities, on perhaps 90% of the hooves they looked at, the hoof wall wasn’t touching the ground at all. They were walking soundly and completely on their sole and frog. However, both sole and frog were much thicker than domestic horses. And, I realized, no one had carved their calluses off.So, how could I make the domestic horses I trimmed more like mustang hoof? If thicker was the answer, would HoofArmor help create a thicker sole in domestic horses? Perhaps, but only if I stopped trimming away the sole the horse was trying to grow. Paring out the sole never made sense to me even when I was shoeing, so there was no conversion. With shoes I often added pads for sole protection. Now I started using HoofArmor as a pad. At a show in Canada I found out that Canadian farriers had been using HoofArmor as a pad for years on the harness tracks because those tracks were gravellier than the thoroughbred tracks and sole bruising was common. This was a HoofArmor niche. Not the last time HoofArmor users would do research for me.
I sponsored a barefoot team at the Great Santa Fe Trail Ride in 2007. This was 515 miles at about 50 a day over ten days from Santa Fe NM to St. Louis MO. My team was totally barefoot. Another team had been sponsored by Renegade boots. When the Renegade boots kept falling off, they asked me to apply HoofArmor on their horses for protection after the boots fell off. This was a success and opened the door for another HoofArmor niche.
The last challenge was to do endurance races with HoofArmor alone. In 2012 the first horse to race at Tevis without shoes or boots used HoofArmor alone. Photos of before and after are on the HoofArmor website. Since then, 50’s, 75’s and 100’s have become commonplace worldwide.
Performance horses have found their HoofArmor niche because of the added agility and movement of a barefoot horse. HoofArmor protects against wear with no loss of traction for such as barrel horses, reining horses, cutting horses, etc. More of those testimonials in many disciplines are on the HoofArmor website too.
By far the biggest HoofArmor niche has been for lameness issues and for soreness over stones. Like the mustangs, a thicker sole is the key to stone insensitivity…the boots vs socks comparison I like to use. Domestic horses are typically kept on grass pasture or soft footing and don’t get to develop the calluses that mustangs will. HoofArmor protects their softer hooves on trail rides or everyday riding.
So, HoofArmor can be used alone, or with shoes or boots in any discipline you want.