Sunday, February 03, 2013

Super Bowl Scoop: Hoof Boot Solves Budweiser Clydesdale Safety Concern

When you saw the new Budweiser Clydesdale commercial, was your first thought, "Why on earth would anyone ask a Clydesdale to canter on pavement?" Mine was. This actor was brave to stand in front of the horse as he approached. Notice the horse is barefoot. (photo courtesy of KC LaPierre)

You read it here first. But you're not going to read much. But here's something to talk about during half-time in the Super Bowl: the hoof connection to the Big Game. (You knew there'd be one!)

When Budweiser allowed a preview of the ad via YouTube, it turned out to be one of the best ads in years. Called "Brotherhood", it has a War-Horse-meets-Lassie-Come-Home theme of a boy and his horse, and the big Clydesdale did his best imitation of a golden retriever.

But my heart skipped a beat when it came to the scene where the lone Clydesdale canters down a city street. We've all seen how that goes.

But little did I know that the horse was not wearing the normal heavy steel horseshoes or even borium-for-traction enhanced steel shoes. He's actually a barefoot Clydesdale.

Before you jump to conclusions, I do not know that any of Budweiser's working hitch horses are shoeless. Please understand that this horse is an actor and may or may not be a hitch horse.

Enter hoofcare entrepreneur KC LaPierre, who just happens to have a new hoof boot in the testing phase, to explain what happened next on the set in Los Angeles.

 "In this scene the horse trotted up to the actor," KC said. "The very first time the scene was shot, this picture, he slipped. The horse was barefoot. Thus the call to use boots for the remainder of the street scenes. That is why I was called in.

"Natural traction may suffice at the walk, and in motion at the trot, but stopping and cantering around turns on smooth asphalt is very dangerous for a horse of this size, any horse for that matter," KC continued. "When it comes to asking our horses to do that which is not natural, we sometimes have to be responsible and take action. I applaud Budweiser for thinking outside the box on this one."

A feathered Clydesdale foot is perfect for a secret hoof boot. You can't see much, except for what appears to be a collar of KC LaPierre's hoof wrapping tape attached to either a metallic or plastic base. It is possible that this is plastic that has been cosmetically-altered to look like a horseshoe when the horse gallops. (KC LaPierre photo)

The boots on the Clydesdales weighed just over a pound and a half, he confirmed. The horse was  trained by professional horse trainer Tommie Mack Turvey, who thanked KC on this Facebook page after the shoot.

KC continued, "What is used on the Clydesdales is not a hoof wrap, they are prototype hoof boots, that made it possible to use them when needed and removed when not. You can see that in one scene the hero horse is barefoot, yet in those scenes where the possibility of slipping was present, the boots were used. Because these are prototypes, I am not a liberty to discuss the materials. I have developed a means to create a boot that uses no glue, and requires no anchors. It is removable, and as you can see from the video, will perform even under extreme force."

KC has been selling traction-minded hoof wrap kits with plastic bases for some time on his web site, but they are a build-it-yourself product. This appears to be something different.

Barefoot heavy horses are nothing new; education leader Pete Ramey based his early work on rehabilitating heavies in Georgia. Many heavy horses have hoof balance and conformation issues that make many farriers and trimmers want to help them.

California farrier and heavy horse specialist Tim Shannon has been experimenting with taking The Big Ones barefoot and commented, "I will say, that in my heavy horse experience in reference to boots, I could not find any to fit well enough. I have transitioned some of these horses into working barefoot. I set up parameters to move them out of shoes and parameters to put them back into shoes. It has been quite an education for me to learn how many of these horses can work barefoot, stay sound and maintain hoof integrity."

What sort of parameters? the Hoof Blog asked. Tim listed off: "Parameters such as wear, out of balance and too short, excessive chipping, flares and dishing that cannot be controlled, too much sole and/or frog pressure, not enough traction, lack of confidence and/or performance."

© Fran Jurga and Hoofcare Publishing; Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog is a between-issues news service for subscribers to Hoofcare and Lameness Journal. Please, no use without permission. You only need to ask. This blog may be read online at the blog page, checked via RSS feed, or received via a digest-type email (requires signup in box at top right of blog page). To subscribe to Hoofcare and Lameness (the journal), please visit the main site,, where many educational products and media related to equine lameness and hoof science can be found. Questions or problems with this blog? Send email to  
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