An experience report from FormaHoof CEO – Alexander Papantoniou
Having recently had the opportunity to travel to the US and around Europe, I took the opportunity to talk to as many farriers, vets, barefoot trimmers, and horse owners as I could about their experiences with FormaHoof, and I was impressed by the overwhelmingly positive feedback I received!
However, some FAQs are lingering over the FormaHoof product, its usage, and where one can find extra information. To help others in the future, I have listed some of these questions and answered them below.
FormaHoof has a wide range of applications, both for rehabilitation of the hoof and for preventative purposes, whereby you may want to protect the hoof from the environment (cold, mud, dirt etc.) or potential damage from hazards (hard rocks etc.).
Where the product really shines is when the geometry and function of a healthy hoof needs to be rebuilt due to injury or illness. This may seem like a simple task, but without the liquid-fill technology of FormaHoof it is impossible to achieve consistent, replicable and functional results. Additionally, FormaHoof does not inhibit movement and in many cases if actually facilitates healthier movement.
FormaHoof has an extremely capable network of individual and qualified applicators able to advise on its best use and offer practical advice on applications. I suggest getting in touch with actual users as a qualified source of information, should you wish to speak to someone in the trade.
There is a common misconception that the FormaHoof Advanced Polymer is just another ‘glue’ like the hundreds already available in the market. This is a big mistake because the polymer has been designed to be everything but a ‘glue’. In developing FormaHoof, we wanted a very low adhesion factor so that the application does not damage the hoof structure when it is removed, as is often the case with glue-on shoes.
What keeps FormaHoof on the hoof is the bell shape of the application and its mechanical strength. The polymer itself has a similar mechanical performance as a natural barefoot hoof, so it moves and flexes to match the structure beneath it.
Another hot topic is hoof growth during the application cycle. Some people seem concerned that the FormaHoof application may force the hoof to grow out in a particular shape, dictated by the shape of the application.
The growth of the hoof is not disrupted at all by the FormaHoof application, and a regular trim will be needed, just as before. The application itself supports healthy growth and can correct imbalanced feet and help them develop in the right direction due to the optimised weight distribution.
FormaHoof Advanced Polymer is designed to flex and allow the hoof to expand and contract. If you are running late with your horse’s trimming schedule the application will simply crack to allow the hoof to have space rather than compressing the foot.
The cost question is something that comes up repeatedly, particularly with interested parties who may have been introduced to the product in the years before FormaHoof changed its management and made substantial cost reductions. It is very important to compare apples with apples and look at the overall cost of a service rather than the initial investment. Additionally, when discussing this issue both with hoof care practitioners and with horse owners, I explain that there are 2 paths to get started with FormaHoof:
Individual horse owners are very welcome to purchase one of the Starter Kits available in our store for their own horse. Once the Kit arrives, the chosen hoof care provider can apply the product and charge for their time and any expenses incurred to perform the service. However, many self-trimming owners have proven success in applying FormaHoof themselves, which allows for 100% cost control.
This path is particularly beneficial because the hoof care providers can rapidly grow their FormaHoof customer base without having to make any investment in FormaHoof products. It is also beneficial for the owner because the cost structure of the service becomes very transparent.
A hoof care provider may decide to purchase a professional multi-mould bundle and offer a turnkey service along with the provision of the polymer. This service will be slightly more expensive for the horse owner on a per-application basis, as owners will pay extra to amortise the cost of the moulds and to buy the polymer from their applicator.
In the US we see an average price of 350 – 500 USD for 2 feet when all materials are provided by the applicator (this depends on the severity of the damage and work required and does not include third-party materials and extra expenses). This would put a FormaHoof service in the same ballpark as most glue-on applications.
The advantages for the horse owner are obvious: you do not have to worry about anything as a complete service is provided. The advantages for the professional are simple as well: when you have a range of sizes and your own materials you do not need your customer to have everything you need on application day.
We currently have customers in 52 countries around the world, in all conceivable climates and environments. The average application has been measured to be roughly 5-8 weeks, during which time we observe highly accelerated hoof growth. The maximum time we have seen is 13 weeks, but this may not be advisable for horses that are growing hoof at a regular rate.
If the environment is particularly abrasive (for example volcanic rock or if the horse does a lot of roadwork), the applicator may choose to add a shoe to the application to add durability. However, it is important to note that the nails will not penetrate the hoof – they will only go through the polymer and so will not damage the hoof wall.
Finally, I am often asked about how the application lasts in deep mud, because this is usually a killer for shoes, boots and glue-ons. The answer is perfectly. Because of the encapsulation of the hoof and the application’s natural resilience to humidity, it does not come off due to the suction of the mud.
See our article FormaHoof vs The Elements for more.