SoftRider is the Next-Generation Horseshoe
Soft-Ride, a leading innovator of products that promote horse hoof health, has developed the next-generation horseshoe: the SoftRider. With a unique base that supports the ENTIRE hoof and a rubber tread that provides traction like an athletic shoe for humans, SoftRider shoes can help keep your horse healthy and performing well.
The SoftRider feature a two-layer construction and is a center-loading shoe. This means that the SoftRider places the load on the center of the shoe rather than on the outside wall of the hoof. This helps increase blood flow to the hoof, reduces strain on the coffin bone and pressure on the navicular region, and isolates the concussive force of impact with the ground on the horse’s skeletal system, all while offering improved multi-directional traction.
SoftRiders are great for aging horses with issues like laminitis, navicular syndrome and ringbone, and they’re also perfect for long-term use on all performance horses. SoftRider shoes have been tested for three years at top veterinary hospitals across the country and are now available for anyone to purchase. We think a pair of SoftRiders is the best $65 you’ll ever spend on your horse.
SoftRider Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a SoftRider and a regular horseshoe?
The SoftRider shoe is a center-loading shoe, which means it takes the weight that usually rests solely on the hoof wall and distributes it across the entire hoof. The base of the shoe rests directly against the sole. This allows for loading and unloading of the sole (just like the Gel Orthotic in a Soft-Ride Comfort Boot), which stimulates circulation throughout the hoof and leg when standing or moving. SoftRiders also allow multi-directional breakover, which minimizes ligament and tendon strain when moving in any direction.
How are SoftRiders applied?
SoftRiders can be cast, glued, or nailed on like a traditional shoe by a vet or farrier. In most cases, they will first wrap the shoe in place to assure proper placement. They will then will mark nail locations that are most beneficial to the horse. They’ll remove the shoe to pre-drill nail holes and then nail the shoe like a traditional shoe. Finally, they will seal the back of the shoe with farrier silicone (or a similar material), leaving an open cavity in front of the frog to allow for loading and unloading of the hoof sole.
Which SoftRider model is best for my horse?
Your vet or farrier can best determine which SoftRider model is best for your horse. The SoftRider Gel Max has a taller profile than the Gel Arena. This allows more breakover, which enables a horse to find the most comfortable resting position for the foot, and is thus more suited for laminitic and navicular horses. The SoftRider Gel Arena has a lower profile and aggressive tread pattern, which makes it a great choice for competition, trail, pleasure and general riding.
Can I ride/perform in SoftRiders?
Yes. SoftRiders are specifically designed to be worn for work and performance. Several NFR riders use the SoftRider Gel Arena on horses competing in roping, barrel racing, cutting, reining and more. English riders use the Gel Arena for dressage, jumping, and other equestrian events. And everyday owners use the SoftRider for activities like work, ranch and trail riding.
Can I still use my Soft-Ride boots with SoftRider shoes?
Not yet. We are working on developing a special gel orthotic for the Soft-Ride Comfort Boot that would work specifically with the SoftRider shoe.
SoftRider Gel Max
The slightly curved sole on the Gel Max enables a horse to find the most comfortable resting position for the foot.
SoftRider Overview with Dr. Joe Stricklin
Equine veterinarian Dr. Joe Stricklin explains how the pliability and center-loading mechanics of SoftRiders differentiate them from other shoes, and how those same features help with lateral breakover and reduce concussion on all of the bones, joints and tendons of the foot and lower leg. “From what I’ve see, there’s a use for these shoes everywhere.”
The SoftRider can be screwed, nailed or glued to the hoof, and—like a traditional horseshoe--should be installed by a farrier or veterinarian. SoftRiders are sized like traditional horseshoes, and your horse can still wear Soft-Ride horse hoof boots and use the Ice Spa while wearing Soft Rider center-loading shoes.
How SoftRiders Work
Centering the Load - The SoftRider’s construction concentrates the horse’s weight in the middle of the hoof, increasing blood flow to and from the foot. This is the same principle used in the deep gel orthotics in Soft-Ride’s Equine Comfort Boots.
Helps Sore-Footed Horses
Equine veterinarian Dr. Joe Stricklin, and farrier Craig Doolittle, demonstrate how SoftRiders helped a sore-footed horse by providing cushioning and ease of breakover.
Equine veterinarian Mark Silverman specializes in equine podiatry and likes the SoftRider because it is designed to support the core of the hoof, aiding in circulation that's important to the function of the foot. Silverman notes that the SoftRider is easy to work with and can be cut and ground for a custom fit to meet the needs of the individual horse.
Better Lateral Breakover
SoftRiders help with lateral breakover in a horse’s stride. Unlike a traditional peripheral loading shoe, SoftRiders allow a horse’s foot to roll over naturally, thus reducing strain and stress on tendons. The SoftRider’s rubber tread also provides better grip than traditional shoes on all surfaces. The video on the right shows several before and after examples of sore-footed horses that were able to return to normal activities after being shod with SoftRiders.
This presentation explains how SoftRiders help with lateral breakover.
SoftRiders helped Fred, a former barrel racer, get back on his feet and back to his old, friendly self.
Getting Sound with SoftRiders
X-rays explain how SoftRiders helped Copper go from lame to sound in seven days.
Help for Barefoot Horses
Dr. Joe Stricklin explains how SoftRiders helped a barefoot horse that hadn’t been trimmed well.
The SoftRider is designed to provide enhanced breakover from front to back, thus easing tension on the deep digital flexor tendon.
Performance Athletes Benefit
The SoftRider's patented design benefits performance horses by spreading the load over the entire hoof, not just the perimeter, thus reducing painful leverage on soft tissues.
The elevated edge enables a practitioner to temporarily mount the SoftRider with casting tape. It can be also shaped with a rasp for a custom fit and features nail location guide lines.
Laminitis / Protecting the Lamina
The SoftRider's sole allows the foot to roll fore and aft and side to side slightly, enabling laminitic horses to find comfortable footing and increasing mobility.
Neutral Resting Position
The SoftRider's substantial sole provides a comfortable, neutral resting position for the foot.
The SoftRider is a center-loading, accommodative shoe that supports the entire foot and reduces potential injuries to soft tissues.
Shock Absorbing Base Material
The SoftRider's shock absorbing base helps soften the blow of each step for performance horses and older or navicular horses alike.
Eases Tendon Stressors
The SoftRIder's design helps ease the strain on tendons and lessens the pull on ligaments.
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Here at Soft-Ride, we receive a steady stream of thank-you notes and letters from customers who want to share how their favorite four-legged friends have been helped by Soft-Ride. Take a look at some of these amazing stories and, if you're so inclined, please send your Soft-Ride success story to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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