Horses in nature are often packed with mud or dirt and it is natural to have some of the weight borne by the frog and sole. The EponaShoe's built-in softer pad makes sure that there won't be any pressure points on the frog or sole. Bearing some weight on the frog is what nature intended for the horse and leads to healthier hooves due to increased blood flow and other factors.
Some care must be taken in designing a frog and sole support system. Some packings are too hard, and sometimes packings can be misapplied (you don't want a 'ball' of packing under the foot, or a blob that puts pressure in one localized point). The EponaShoe is the only shoe on the market with a built-in softer portion on the sole-side of the shoe, and our packing has been designed to offer support, but not be too hard. This web-site gives farriers directions on how to use our packing and get the support done right. It is a rare occurrence that our system makes horses sore. Also, see question #10 below.
Some users (e.g. in sand arenas) have told us that they have reset the same shoes 4 times! But generally, you should expect 1 reset only. With the "plain" EponaShoe, except for the most extreme uses, they last for a normal 6-week interval, and sometimes can be re-set for another six weeks. Carriage horses and endurance riders going on rocky surfaces order the EponaShoe version with inset "carbide-tips" for enhanced wear resistance. We believe the ability for the horse to wear the toe bevel 'how it wants' is an important feature for the health of the hoof. So, the ability to wear (within reason) is a good thing. If your main concern is how long shoes will last, then stick with steel. If you're concerned with your horse's feet, use a flexible shoe. It's that simple.
The EponaShoe can be nailed on just like a conventional shoe -- in fact, that is what most users of the EponaShoe do. So, any farrier can apply the shoe, and no special tools are needed. However, we also took care to develop the EponaShoe so that, as an alternative, it may be glued-on. While this is in no way required to use the shoe, we have found that it can be helpful in therapeutic cases. The glue spreads the load evenly and allows the farrier to correct various problems at the same time. Some users come to EponaShoe due to real problems -- and use glue -- after a few shoeing when the problems subside, they switch to simply nailing on the EponaShoe.
We have a group of test horses that have had polyurethane shoes glued onto their feet year round for the past 12 years. Because the developers of the EponaShoe are also the inventors of the EponaTech hoof measurement system we have accurately calibrated digital photographs and radiographs of these horses over the entire 12 year period. There have been unsupported claims that the use of glue-on shoes may cause "heels to contract", but we have 12 years of measurements that show that this is not the case. Several of these horses had a history of mild lameness or off-and-on soundness issues in their previous metal-shod lives, but have been rock-solid sound for years now in the EponaShoe. See also our Case Studies including a case of long-term (since 2002!) use of glued on polyurethane shoes. If you have any lingering concerns about the use of acrylic glues, then just don't use them -- the EponaShoe can be nailed on just like a conventional shoe! There is no need to use glue, but we find it a great aid in therapeutic cases -- it spreads the load evenly around the hoof.
We started with "Model A" and we are working our way through the alphabet as we modify and improve the EponaShoe. Current shoes being sold are marked C+ or D. One of EponaShoe's great advantages is that it is undergoing continuous product improvement. The founders of the company have technical and other resources to allow them to generate new molds when an improvement can be made to the design. If you look at the competing plastic shoes, you'll see our competitors haven't bothered to change their molds in years. Our shoe is the best thing on the market for your horse's feet, and getting better all the time. Our financial advisors don't always agree with this (molds are expensive!) but believe it or not, we really are trying to do the right thing for the horse -- that's our number one priority.
Unfortunately, we have to overcome the shortcomings of our competitor's products (past and present). We used to use the other plastic shoes ourselves and put up with the 'practical problems' until it finally drove us to design our own shoe to get around these issues. We now hold a US patent for the key feature that makes a flexible shoe work: the use of two materials on the sole-side. Where the nails go must be relatively hard and stiff, but then a second softer material must be used on the interior to avoid pressure points on the sole or frog. This simple use of two materials is central to what the EponaShoe is about. The EponaShoe will keep it's shape and will hold nails just fine. Also, the EponaShoe has two small steel stiffeners embedded within the shoe (size 0 and up) which reinforces the nailing system. Farriers who actually try the EponaShoe appreciate the design. You can see a picture of a nailed-on EponaShoe after 8 weeks (below) - notice that the clinches have not opened, nor "wiggled around". This photo is of a hind foot, and this horse is quite active and rough on his hinds - lots of pounding and twisting action. We believe that the EponaShoe is the best nailing flexible shoe on the market. If you want to know more about the engineering that went into the EponaShoe, read our Engineering Page.
If you have a good farrier, and you have to choose between him and our shoes -- you should choose the farrier. No shoe creates miracles on its own, so it's more important to have a good farrier. Farriers are generally very practical people, and many have seen lots of gimmicks come and go, so his reaction is not so surprising. We hope that with time farriers will see our shoe as the practical alternative to steel that it is. We are not radical "anti-steel" people -- our best customers are farriers who still put more steel on than plastic. They just use the EponaShoe as one more tool in their bag of tricks.
Not really. Basically, you use pull-offs and start at the heel. Often the glue will have begun to crack at the heels somewhat, and you start from there and it will peel or snap off. If a few nails were used in addition to the glue, they should be pulled out individually with crease pullers first, then pry the shoe off. Click here to see an example of this process.
We go through these various situations on our frog suport page.
Acrylic glues are what women have used for 50 years to glue on nail extensions. Those polyurethane-based glues contain isocyanates which are known to be cancer causing but are odorless! So you can't judge the nastiness of a chemical by it's smell. By the way, the EponaShoe glues on just fine with the polyurethane glues also -- so use whichever you are comfortable with. All of these glues should be used with caution and applied in a well-ventilated area.
First of all, not everything that 'smells funky' is thrush. It is becoming known now, and most veterinarians now agree, that thrush is caused by poor circulation in the foot. We have yet to see thrush in a foot that has been shod with a plastic shoe. With a flexible shoe, blood circulates in the hoof more like nature intended, and the horse's system can fight off thrush and other potential bacterial agents. We have come to believe that the best cure for thrush is to shoe with the EponaShoe and stop bothering with topical applications of chemicals to try to control it -- they probably won't be needed. Finally, our all-natural anti-bacterial granules were developed to be hand-mixed with our packing to inhibit the grow of bacteria and fungus when using packing.
Plastic shoes do not eliminate concussion, just reduce it somewhat. The plastic we use on the outer rim portion of the EponaShoe matches the mechanical properties of the hoof wall quite closely, so you can think of it just as a hoof extension. Hence it is not changing the natural concussion the hoof experiences very much. Although most plastic shoes are advertised as "reducing concussion" we think that this feature is not the first that should be mentioned -- in fact it is probably only 5th on the list of important attributes of the EponaShoe. Concussion abatement is important for street horses (carriage, mounted police) and to some extent for uses like endurance racing. Otherwise, avoiding concussion should not be the first aim of a modern shoe design. More important are: 1) allowing the hoof capsule to flex somewhat like when barefoot, and 2) supporting the frog in the proper way, and 3) allowing the shoe to wear the toe-breakover as the 'horse wants', and 4) the ability to avoid nails if needed (in this case, use glue), and then 5) reduce concussion.
There are reasons for the EponaShoe's design. Our head engineer explains some of this on our Engineering Page.
We believe the "mesh pad" version of our shoe will inhibit snow packing to a large extent. As an alternative, the central opening in our shoe can be filled with our hoof packing material -- fill it right to near tread-level and we have found the packing will stay there, and will block other things from getting in there.
Yes, we have written up some of the "fine points" of placing and nailing the EponaShoe -- this is how we do it -- of course, every farrier does things his/her own way, and most of those ways should work too! Read our hints on nailing here.
We offer a step by step guide known as our "How To" video series click here to start watching and learning!