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Wacky World of Rubber: Making a better horseshoe

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Photo by ContiTech Turfcord is attached using a special adhesive, and farriers can apply the shoe during regular trimming sessions.

Continental knows a thing or two about traction, grip and vibration control. And one of its latest innovations, the direct result of a collaboration with German firm Turfcord GmbH, is helping ensure grip and smooth ride over rough terrain.

After years of design collaboration, Continental's ContiTech unit introduced a rubber-based horseshoe designed to offer better protection for the horse, while also making the jobs of farriers a little bit easier.

The Turfcord shoe doesn't reduce a horse's gait or stride length, but it does protect the hoof in ways that traditional metal horseshoes can't, according to ContiTech. The shock-absorbing turfcord shoe also helps to reduce the strain on the horse's joints.

Because traditional metal horseshoes are attached using special nails, the process of applying the shoe can be stressful for the horse and may damage the horny layer of the hoof. Metal horseshoes also prevent the hoof from growing healthily during the time that the horseshoe is worn, according to ContiTech.

Turfcord is attached using a special adhesive, and farriers can apply the shoe during regular trimming sessions, ContiTech said. The old shoes are removed gently using pincers and a rasp.

The adhesive allows the turfcord horseshoe to remain affixed to the horse's hoof for as many as eight weeks.

The Turfcord horseshoes are available in two designs for front and rear hooves, both of which come in 12 sizes. Since its launch, turfcord has made it an aim to sell only to licensed and accredited farriers.

"With Turfcord, we wanted to create an entirely new kind of hoof protection—one that would serve the same function as horseshoes but without the accompanying downsides for horses' walking characteristics and hoof health," Turfcord's Erich Buschmann said.

The resulting design caught the attention of judges at Germany's Pferd & Jagd exhibition for the equestrian and hunting industries. There, the Turcord horseshoe was given the equine "Innovation Pferd" product award for product excellence.

"The whole team," Buschmann said, "is proud of the fact that turfcord's potential has been recognized and honored with this award."

Erin Pustay Beaven is the online content editor for Rubber & Plastics News. She is an appreciator of life's littlest treasures, a reader of great books and supporter of the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Indians. Erin is an advocate for libraries, arts education and PBS. Follow her on Twitter at @EBeavenCrain.