A New Era for Horse Shoes
Horseshoes have changed little over the years but we could be about to enter a new era. Dutch horse shoe manufacturer Kerckhaert has developed the first horseshoe nails in 1000 years and more which are designed to do more than simply hold the shoes on.
Copper Horseshoe Nails
The new Liberty Cu horseshoe nails have a coating of antimicrobial copper. This prevents bacteria from entering the hoof wall through the nail holes. The protective effect is ongoing and will reduce the amount of bacteria entering a horse’s hooves for the entire shoeing cycle. Copper kills bacteria, viruses, yeasts and moulds as soon as they come into contact with the metal. This is why many hospitals have started to fit copper-plated door handles in their buildings.
Every time a farrier drives a nail into a horse’s hoof it creates a pathway for bacteria to enter. Copper could prove to be the solution. The new nails are based on Kerckhaert Liberty nails. They benefit from a longer and thinner shank to enable the farrier to drive them higher into the hoof wall without causing cracking.
Eagle eyed viewers tuning in to watch The Breeders Cup meeting this year may have noticed that one horse, Decorated Knight, was wearing copper-plated shoes. The shoes were the Kerckhaert SuperSound Cu raceplates also worn by Battaash when winning the Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp, a race on the undercard of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Copper shoes aren’t really anything new. The Incas were using copper shoes 500 years ago. Also the horses and mules that worked in coal mines wore copper shoes as the metal doesn’t create sparks from friction like iron and steel. Now companies have developed copper coating technology for the benefit of horses rather than to help people!
The antimicrobial properties of copper are well documented. Some farriers add copper sulphate to hoof packing and wall adhesives to improve hoof health. Raceplates were the logical next step after the development of copper-coated nails. The shoes don’t penetrate the hooves like the nails. However, a large area of metal is in contact with the hooves and so there could be benefits to wearing the copper shoes.
Copper Horseshoes for your Horse?
Trainers of elite racehorses are now exploring the benefits of copper-coated horseshoes. If the shoes prove to be successful, then their use is sure to spread across the equestrian world. It will be interesting to see what happens next!