July 27, 2015 by RAZERHORSE BLOG
What are the differences, advantages and disadvantages between using leather and polyurethane hoof pads?
Leather pads are either cut to fit from a large piece of leather or may be purchased ready-made. They are either flat or wedge-shaped and are also available as rim pads.
Advantages: natural product, simple to work, breathable material (thrush occurs much less frequently), offers some degree of cushioning, shoes remain stable and nails are less likely to work loose than with some synthetics
Disadvantages: the firmness and elasticity of leather pads change with the amount of moisture in the surroundings by getting softer when it is damp and firmer when the ground is dry, wedge-shaped leather pads become compressed over time and so lose their wedge effect, leather is less resistant to wear and under some certain working environments the frog can wear or burst through the pad
Polyurethane is a synthetic material, which can be made in various degrees of hardness, elasticity and thickness. It is excellent for dampening the high frequency shocks that occur on hard going. This provides cushioning for the sole and a degree of protection for the distal joints.
Due to their firmness, synthetic pads in combination with suitable packing material are good for redistributing the load from the bearing edge to the sole, frog and bars. Due to the lighter weight of shoe and pad, this solution is a practicable alternative to a bar shoe.
Propads are a flat pad (rather than a wedge pad) and feature additional frog support which is independent of the pad through the use of an accordion-like fold on each side of the frog support piece. They can be used as a full pad or rim pad that doesn’t cover the sole.
Advantages: more abrasion-resistant than leather, durable even in damp conditions, better cushioning properties than leather
Disadvantages: not breathable, trimming is often more time-consuming than for leather, not as much grip on the surface of the pads, to prevent or treat thrush under a pad, the frog and the sole should be treated with an antimicrobial product
Why Choose Polyurethane?
Robert M. Bowker, VMD, PhD, Associate Professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathology at Michigan State University, says, “They appear to represent a continuation of the industry to produce materials that can better withstand the loads imposed upon the foot by the horse as well as not become permanently deformed once the loads of the horse have been imposed upon the pads. Because these pads do not seem to become permanently compressed as some others may, they hopefully would provide a ‘softer’ type of support, especially for the severely laminitic foot.” (The Horse)
Horses with particular diagnosed hoof and foot problems might heal faster or feel more comfortable with the aid of a high-tech hoof pad. Horses that have thin soles and are prone to stone bruises benefit from these pads. They are very useful when a lot of road work or work on hard surfaces is being done.
thehorse.com, “Hoof Pads for Healing” by Marcia King