What are the benefits of a HUF

On quiet feet

Many advantages

Let us first deal with the advantages: The first, more obvious - or better: more tangible - advantage of plastic fittings is its weight: it is significantly lighter than iron fittings, usually around two-thirds, the horses walk more freely and loosely, and the limbs are also less stressed. The plastic also ensures better damping, shocks are absorbed by the material, and there are no high-frequency vibrations as with iron fittings (so-called clinking effect).

Due to the elasticity and deformability of the material, the hoof can develop a dynamic similar to that of a barefoot hoof. “The unshod hoof also yields vertically because the hoof is elastic and adapts to the unevenness of the ground to a certain extent. This protects the joints. The hoof is protected and stable by an iron, but the force can affect the joints. ”(Prof. Girtler) Due to the almost undisturbed hoof dynamics not only in the horizontal (so-called hoof mechanism), but also in the vertical plane the blood circulation in the hoof is also significantly improved overall, which in the long term contributes to better hoof horn quality and fewer hoof problems. Another advantage - according to Prof. Girtler - is the closed shape of the plastic shoe: “The unshod hoof rests on the ground as a whole, and the sole also supports it. If the hoof is shod with an open iron, only the carrying edge carries, the frog usually has no ground contact, so the hoof mechanism cannot function optimally. The frog must be in contact with the ground or, in the case of a closed iron, with the crossbar, because counterpressure is necessary so that the heels can work and the hoof mechanism gets going Iron, so the position of the hoof axis remains the same during the entire shoeing period.

So many advantages should actually convince. One reason why so far many riders have shied away from the use of plastic fittings was that it was less durable than iron. However, there are major improvements here in particular, so that - with correct fitting - you can (can! Not have to) achieve values ​​such as iron. In fact, some plastic fittings achieve significantly better abrasion values ​​in an objective test than conventional steel iron. The company Cera had its Hippoflex® fitting tested for abrasion by the Higher Technical Federal Training and Research Institute Vienna XX in comparison with steel iron. Astounding result of the report: In the standardized test "the plastic horseshoes show less wear than the steel horseshoes with the same load and the same grinding path". But where does the subjective impression that plastic fittings can withstand less come from? You have to know the following: Horses that are used to sliding iron fittings and have therefore become accustomed to a slipping gait wear out the plastic fittings more quickly in the beginning. After a short period of getting used to it, however, they adjust to their natural gait. So don't be discouraged right away, but give the plastic a second chance. "Usually you have to start the first two shoeing periods a little shorter, after that you can usually adhere to the usual intervals" - says hoof specialist Herby Mende, who has already gained a lot of experience with alternative fittings and also continuously tests prototypes and fittings that are still in use Stage of development.

The grip on the ground and thus the sliding phase with most plastic fittings is similar to that with a barefoot hoof. Products that brake too hard are less recommended as the braking energy can stress the joints. For a better hold, most products have studs and Widia pins as well as inserts to prevent them from opening up in winter.

The transparency of most fittings is also an advantage, as it makes the blacksmith's job easier in that he can see the white line when nailing it on. And last but not least, plastic fittings have another advantage: they are much less prone to injury than iron fittings. Crown and ball kick are practically no more, and also fights with other horses, z. B. in the paddock, are much less dramatic with a "sneaker" than with iron-reinforced hooves.