Ways of shoeing horses

Since the invention of forged and nailed horse shoes almost 2000 years ago, which solved the problem of increased abrasion of hooves strained on hard grounds, no remarkable progress has been made in this technology.

Due to the lack of an alternative to the standard horse shoe, the pondering over its disadvantages would have been idle. This and the fact that horses remain mute even when severely wounded, led to the fact that laymen and even experts have become routinly blinded and can no longer see any shortcomings in shoes made of iron and fixed with nails to the foot.

New materials developed for human medicine, for instance cements for hip replacements, make it possible to easily replace the the ancient technology by a non invasive horse shoeing technique superior in every aspect, but rejected because of tradition.

The following comparision between traditional horse shoe and integrated horse shoe will assist in pointing out the different materials, technologies and effects to help in making a realistic assessment of the two shoeings.

Principal of Shoeing

Traditional Horse shoe

Integrated horse shoe

The traditional horse shoe is made of forged steel, which can neither be distorted nor compressed nor spread. Because of that the hoof mechanism is restricted and partly prevented. The integrated horse shoe is basically made out of synthetic horn, but also comprises hardened steel segments which do not touch the hoof what so ever. They are embedded in the synthetic horn and like chain links stay moveable and follow the natural movement of the hoof inside the flexible material.




The traditional horse shoe is fixed with six to eight nails, driven into the hoof wall. Occuring thrust-, shear- and centrifugal forces are distributed punctiformily.

The fastening of an integrated horse shoe only becomes visible through enlargement by a scanning electron microscope since the syntetic horn fills the intercellular gaps of the hoof horn, which are only 0.3 micrometers wide.

"The bonding of the artificial horn and the natural horn is stronger than within the natural horn masses"
 (Prof. Dr. Klaus Budras).

This photo of a thrown horse shoe shows how it was fixed with nails in the hoof wall. In order to show the fastening of an integrated horse shoe on the foot from the inside, it was mounted on a transparent hoof model.

The horse shoe gets nailed into the horse's foot.

The integrated horse shoe gets cast onto the horse's foot.

The traditional horse shoe.

The integratet horse shoe.

The only thing the two horse shoes have in common is the sound they make when in use on hard surfaces.


Effects on the hoof

The scouring marks on the worn horse shoe result from the remaining spreading motion only possible in the heel area. Distorsions of the hoof capsule, as shown on the photo on the right, are completely prevented by the rigid shoe. Slopes or inclined positions in curves must be balanced out by the joints. The steel plate under the left heel demonstrates the capability of the hoof capsule to adust to slopes.

The black spots on the ground border are effusions of blood due to bruises in the corium caused by nailing (visible only in white hooves). The integrated horse shoe causes no injuries and is not felt as a foreign body by the horses.

On average the horse shoe remains six to eight weeks on the horse's foot because  the abrasion of the heels on the steel shoe must be compensated by also shortening the toe of the foot. Old nail holes due to frequent nailing can lead to vertical fissures of the hoof wall. The integrated horse shoe can remain 16 weeks or longer on the horse's foot because no partial abrasion occurs. The photo shows an integrated horse shoe after 16 weeks on heavy draught breed.


Removal of horse shoes

Removal of horse shoes (Körber)

„After a shoeing period of 4-6 weeks the traditional shoe is to be removed. It is not pulled off but taken off carefully. The removing of the shoe by force causes bruises and overstrain in the corium and causes the loss of parts of the hoof.“

The parts of the integrated horse shoe that cover the hoof wall are either chipped or rasped off. The sole can then be pulled off easily.


Equipment and tools

To make traditional horse shoes, the forge, shoes and nails are needed.

Photo above: Black smiths shop, forge
Photo middle: large equipment of the forge
Photo below: farrier tools


To make an integrated horse shoe, the support frame (inserts and injection mold), synthetic horn and injection gun are needed.

Out of the tools shown on the left photo, no. 1, 5, 6 and 7 are used.



For different events the traditional steel horse shoe can be equipped with calkins or can be replaced by aluminium shoes only.

    The integrated horse shoe offers to the athletic horse:

    • very light designs with good grip on all grounds
    • springy and elastic material
    • low surface pressure because of enlarged hooves
    • simple attachments of weights on the synthetic hoof-wall
    • very good grip and traction in the snow and on ice
    • the loss of shoes is impossible because there is no space between shoe and heels
    • minimal scalping or interference damage to the limbs
    • no swelling of limbs after enduring competitions



    Holographic Measurement of Deformation
    of a horse´s hoofs

    Deformation barefoot

    Deformation of traditionaly shod hoof

    The fringe pattern shows a distinct kink. Natural hoof deformation is hindered by the conventional metal shoe.

    As a result of the above mentioned unnatural tension occurs in the foot.

    Deformation with integrated horse shoe

    The picture with integrated horse shoe shows a deformation similar to that in the picture of the unshod hoof.

    The integrated horse shoe allows an unhindered deformation of the hoof. The fringe pattern runs evenly over the whole surface.


    Medical and anatomical implications


    Conventional treatment of hoof  with injury caused vertical horn wall fissure. Because of the continued movement of the hoof capsule, the fissure does not close.

    "The change of the tissue tension beacuse of shoeing enhances the development of vertical fissures of the hoof wall reducing the function of the hoof considerably."
    (Budras 1998)

    Correct nailing and nail prick (Körber):
    a) Correct nailing
    b-d) nail prick

    The integrated horse shoe repairs the horn capsule back to that of a normal healthy hoof and enables the regenerative growth of fissure free horn material.

    "The development of vertical fissures because of increased tissue tension together with the danger of ground border splintering is considerably lowered by the nail-less synthetic shoe. It does this because it acts like and outside skeleton protecting the natural parts of the hoof" (Budras 1998)



    "Through the nail channels which act as an entrance for rising bacteria, settlements of microorganisms are carried closer to the corium. This increases the danger of a purulent inflammation of the corium accompanied by pain and lameness. The danger increases through a direct or indirect nail prick" (Budras 1998)

    "The synthetic horn acts as a barrier against rising bacteria and therefore can be used as treatment of laminitis where the barrier function of the white line is lost." (Budras 1998)

    "The disintegration processes of the natural horn are delayed inside the synthetic horn. The synthetic horn is chemically inert which means no chemical transformation takes place but an integrated adhesive connection between the natural and the synthetic horn is achieved."
    (Budras 1998)

    "The hoof mechanism is restricted when shoed in the common way as shown impressively in the holographic deformation study under the use of ruby impulse lasers.
    The restriction of the hoof mechanism leads to a lesser blood flow, especially to restriction of back-flow of the blood from the foot."
    (Budras 1998)

    Traditional horse shoes are not beneficial to the sound hoof.
    (Lungwitz 1940)

    Horse shoes are a necessary evil. (Hertsch – Carstensen 1983)

    The integrated horse shoe does not restrict the hoof mechanism. That is why the disadvantages of the traditional shoe are excludet.
    (Budras 1998)

    The integrated horse shoe has no negative effects on regular sound hooves.
    (Hertsch – Neubert 2000)


    Additional Therapeutic Measures

    Therapeutic measures by means of horse shoes are:

    • removal of the shoe
    • bars
    • wedges
    • eggbars
    • leather or plastic pads
    • lid horse shoes


    "The integrated horse shoe is beneficial in case of hoof abnormalties like flat hooves, collapsed heels, chronic founder, pododermatitis, poor horn quality and club feet.
    It helps the recovery of bad feet caused by excessive abrasion and short shoeing intervals, possibly during a 6 month shoeing period."
    It has positive influence on healthy hooves as well as minimal scalping or interference damage to the limbs should one shod hoof touch the contra lateral limb.
    (vet. journal "Der praktische Tierarzt" 11/2001.)

    It helps to prevent and heal:

    • genetically bad horn quality,
    • imbalanced hooves,
    • ossification of cartilages,
    • purulent pododermatitis,
    • fracture of third phalanx,
    • flexor tendon problems,
    • bone spavin,
    • sesamoid bone changes,
    • horizontal crack of the hoof,
    • contracted hoof involving the heel.

    The integrated horse shoe can be applied to heavily damaged hoof walls.


    Verbundhufeisen GmbH & Co. KG

    Schwartauer Landstraße 115
    D-23554 Lübeck
    Tel./Fax: 0049-451-39 68 588