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."

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Travis Morgan said...

Oh, good lord; all the horse had to do was canter around a corner!
MUST the barefoot crowd grasp at EVERYTHING as proof for their flawed ideology? Shoes were developed as a solution to a problem. That's Problem>Theory>Solution. Barefoot is Wild hair up butt>Supposition>Questionable results> Ideology>Endless search for proof of theory. That is not the scientific process.

Andrea said...

The same could be said for outdated shoeing ideology, Travis. It's an interesting story, whether or not you are pro-barefoot or, as you appear to be, violently anti-barefoot. I'd like to see a slick shod heavy horse trying to gallop down tarmac... talk about anti-scientific process.

Fran Jurga said...

Hello, I think you might have missed the key information that the horse started the shoot barefoot and needed the traction that a shoe could provide. So they put a removable shoe (hoof boot) on him. So, a shoe of sorts was the solution to the problem and made it a safer performance for the horse. I think the only ideology proven here was that problem-solving skills will get the job done.

Nick said...

Wonderful scoop Fran, I too had some raised eyebrows at the cantering scene. Nice to know how it was done safely.

Rhonda Lane said...

Great post, Fran. Loved the peek at the safety shoes and the story from the farrier. I have no doubt the Clydes Crew will protect their horses. Anyway, did you happen to catch the baby name last night? I admit we DVRed the game to watch the commercials, so we may have missed it, but I'm wondering if Bud even announced it?

Fran Jurga said...

Hi Rhonda, thank you! I don't think they had planned to announce it yet. In fact, they posted a longer, extended version of the commercial on Facebook just yesterday, with the hashtag and a promo to name the foal at the end.

And I found out that it's a filly, which definitely lets out all the suggestions of "Stan"!

Thanks for reading! Didn't it remind you of War Horse?

Rhonda Lane said...

I'm SUCH a moron. I have to admit I never thought of WAR HORSE, but now that you mention it, I bet it inspired the idea. Think about it - I bet the ad crew is planning next year's ad right now, if for no other reason than to plan the strategy for training the Clydes. And, this time last year, WAR HORSE was up for Best Picture. I'll have to look up the longer commercial. I missed it.

Mim B. said...

Hi, I think any and all information is important/vital to learn about, I just find it always sad that it still needs to turn in a anit-barefoot/anti-shoeing battle, versus trying to figure out how to manage our domesticated horses that truly are no longer exposed to a "natural" life. They simply do not move enough in captivity which compromises their physiological being - alternatives need to be found, and we as owners/farriers/vets/trimmers/ etc need to educate ourselves to the best of what is out there and "work together" not against each other!

HoofingMad said...

Ah and lol, not supprised at all to see Travis Bitching yet again, soon as an article, blog anything comes up to do with bare, there he is haha pathetic!!! maybe he should spend less time on line whining and more time out enducationg himself lol, think hes a wee bit jealous of KC

Anonymous said...

Words of wisdom Mim B.

Anonymous said...

Great Explanation on the hoofwear. KC said that the feet on these actor horses were exceedingly nice, on a scale from 1 to 10 they all, and there were several horses) 8's to 9's. So the Bud team had done a wonderful job of taking care of their feet. But, they were asking the hoot to exceed it's capability on the pavement. The factors are Force=Mass X Acceleration. Therefore to proceed they needed some sort of support for the hoof. Along with the need for traction. Tommie Turvey and KC are longtime friends and since he was training these horses for the acting part of the commercial he know of KC's new hoof ware coming out and asked for his help. KC crafted these exclusively for this commercial and put them on. The hoof was then able to withstand the forces created by the speed and the mass of his body weight within the hoof.
It was not anything about going barefoot, the actual hitch all are shod. The actor horses are all barefoot. It is about the hoof being able to withstand the forces asked of it.
I can't wait for the new hoof ware to be available to us. They will go on and off when performing, leaving the horse to go barefoot, for the health of the foot, at other times.
So when in Applied Equine Podiatry language, there are 2 parts, the hoof, or outer shell, and the foot within that is within the outer shell.
Congratulations are in order for KC and all the research and development he has done all over the world on all the horses, that have afforded us the opportunity to help our horses have stronger more capable foundation to their feet.

Anonymous said...

I have had the honors to meet and spend time with KC and his crew on the up and comming hoof products that are changing the way we think of shoeing a horse. Everyone should be jelious of this man... he is amazing!

Wendy said...

All Budweiser horses in the commercials are Budweiser horses. They train them to do all the 'acting'. So while it is true this may not be a hitch horse, you can bet money that it is a Budweiser Clydesdale. You can probably find confirmation of my statements on their website, or you can go tour a brewery, learn about beer, the horses, and get some freebies.

Rick Burten said...

Good article! Seems to me that it was a win-win situation. One might opine that the horse was shod, "barely". ;)Kudos to everyone involved for coming up with a safe, workable solution.

Fran Jurga said...

Thanks for your good cheer, Rick! I agree, the glass is is still half full and necessity is still the mother of invention.

What might seem like a one-off solution is getting a lot of attention and if KC and other people have ideas for friction/slippage solutions for both shod and unshod horses on pavement, we might even have moved ahead, thanks to a Super Bowl commercial.

nighthawkess said...

"Good Lord the horse is just going around the corner" ? Have you ever seen a horse slide and loose it's footing going around a corner, and actually fall? I have! (From being on asphalt?) Not a natural environment indeed. Hence the "spiked" shoes on them. I think this new "boot" is a fabulous idea. And also agree, that it keeps the hoof in good condition without the nails that comes with shoes. I myself have witnessed what a barefoot trim can do for my horse as opposed to the "old fashioned" farrier ways. There's always room for learning and improvement!

evohorseman said...

Have been keeping horses barefoot for over 15 years - all disciplines, all breeds, (drafts included) all kinds of surfaces!! Trim properly, feed and exercise right, boot if necessary - studied Pete Ramey and KC LaPierre - no need for shoes - have a non-profit rescue and all the horses have benefitted immensely from going barefoot! Thank-you KC!

2horseygirls said...

Thanks Fran! I admit - I watched it again last night with my husband (after my mother-in-law said it even brought her to tears (a minor miracle indeed!)) and the thought of "Holy road founder!" did cross my mind. But only for a second, as I know Tommie would not allow anything that could cause harm for the sake of a commercial. I should have known you'd have the scoop! Jenne :)

Kate said...

To the first commenter: my horse slipped and fell while cantering around a corner on asphalt (she had gotten loose) and sustained some pretty serious injuries back in November. She is a lightweight Thoroughbred. I can only imagine the extra force involved with a huge draft cantering around a corner on slippery footing like asphalt. As usual, Budweiser has their horses best interest at heart and I am glad they found a workable solution to protect the horse but keep the storyline together.

Pat Burton CJF said...

Fran- as always you keep us aware of anything "Hoof Related" in the world!
There are great advances in use of modern materials to provide protection, traction and support for hoof care problems. The last few years we have witnessed dramatic advances in Therapeutic Podiatry in addition to top International Race Trainers and Farriers using similar techniques on some of the world's top Thorobreds. Thanks for the article!
Pat Burton CJF

Fran Jurga said...

Thanks, Pat, and thanks for checking in. I agree, about the new materials but I think we are only at the beginning of a whole new way of giving horses what they need--whether it is semi-permanent or removable traction, protection, etc. But I think that instead of taking technology and slapping it on the hoof, I think we need to start with the hoof and go look for the technology that will help it. I think there will be more success that way.

Anonymous said...

Very touching commercial. Now I'd like to see the sequel that shows the horse going home again. :)

Judi said...

Beautiful commercial.
I was sold on barefoot the very first time I cantered by barefoot QH mare on tar road. The sensation is so different to the clash/crash/bang with steel shoes.