Queensland farrier Steve Costin's plastic horseshoes sell worldwide after 25 years of work

POLYURETHANE: Steve Costin's innovative horseshoes have taken off in the US, France and Germany. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

POLYURETHANE: Steve Costin's innovative horseshoes have taken off in the US, France and Germany. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

Master farrier Steve Costin has spent 25 years perfecting a polyurethane horseshoe that is selling all over Australia, New Zealand, the United States, France and Germany.

Mr Costin said he first came up with the idea when trying to find a treatment solution for a foundered mare suffering from a common and painful hoof condition.

"She was going to be put down, although there were a number of things we could have tried, the main obstacle was money," he said.

"You can tell when a horse is ready to go and this one had a lot of life left in her.

"I had a bit of (plastic) bread board in the ute that I cut up and because we didn't have the glues we have now, I used a bit of Silastic.

"There were a million things that could have gone wrong but luckily none did and after a few shoeings she was right as she could be."

Mr Costin, from a rural area south-west of Brisbane, said being able to save that mare was the start of a 25-year journey to perfect his plastic horseshoe.

"That episode got me thinking and even though even I wasn't a fan of polyurethane at first - I had been shoeing steel shoes six days a week for 40 years - but I would be driving in my car and come up with an idea that might make the shoes work," he said.

"I had a lot of failures, probably about 20 years' worth of failures but every time I failed I learned something and the shoes evolved into what they are today.

"Compared to a steel or aluminium shoe they have a broader surface for the horse's sole to land on, with more cushioning and less stretching and vibration to the horse.

"Vibration saps energy, it's comparable to a human wearing a hard riding boot and then changing to a soft sandshoe.

"Steel horseshoes are like putting a plaster cast on a perfectly good arm, they immobilise the entire foot and the muscle underneath becomes weaker because there's a lot less movement."

Mr Costin said the problem was often excessive pressure between the bottom of the foot and the coronet, the upper section of the foot capsule.

"You are looking at 500 kilograms on top standing still," he said. "At a gallop that could be tonnes slamming down onto a weakened foot."

Mr Costin said the shoes also improved race performance, and had been approved by Racing Queensland for use in barrier trials.

"I was a trainer at Beaudesert race track from the mid 90s to the mid 2000s with about 70 winners," he said. "These horseshoes improve the stride of a horse and when you take away the pain you can gain two-and-a-half lengths.

"In the past six months we've found that top end equestrians are starting to take notice. Nichole Aird uses Costin Horseshoes and (equine vet) Andrew Watts, too."

This story It took 25 years but farrier perfects the plastic horseshoe first appeared on Beaudesert Times.