Clip-on shoes let horses clip-clop in comfort

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The shock-absorbing Megasus Horserunner weighs less than half a pound(Credit: Megasus Horserunners)

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Having iron plates slapped on the bottom of your feet would make walking and running pretty uncomfortable, and one Austrian startup believes it doesn't do horses much good either. The team behind Megasus Horserunners has launched a crowdfunding campaign for a horseshoe alternative it says will allow for more natural hoof movements, and can be easily clipped on and taken off as required.

The key argument the Megasus team makes against your traditional iron horseshoe is based on the way that a hoof responds to the terrain underfoot. It says that a common misconception about hooves is that they only move on a horizontal plane, when its own research into the matter has shown that the hoof can actually move vertically to compensate for uneven ground.

And bounding about on a stiff, uncompromising plate means that some tendons and ligaments go unused, the team says, in the same way a plaster limits movement in humans. So it set about designing footwear for horses with a little more give.

The system begins with a velcro-like tape that wraps around the hoof. The shock-absorbing shoe, which weighs less than half a pound (226 g) and is made of both soft and hard components, is then bound to the hoof with a row of flaps that fold inwards and grab onto the tape with a "bulletproof hold."

The number of flaps and size of the shoe can be customized depending on the hoof size. The team says the ability to remove them easily (well, more easily than ripping nails out of a tough horse hoof, anyway) means that the horse can walk barefoot to strengthen its hooves and give its tendons and ligaments a good workout when the opportunity arises.

Currently raising funds on Kickstarter, the Megasus team has just passed its €100,000 (US$110,000) goal with 23 days left to run. Early pledges of €75 (USD$82) will have a set of two Megasus Horserunners headed your way in July 2017, if all goes to plan.

You can check out the pitch video below.

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