Farriers and horse owners turn their attention to a new daily use hoof care product designed and manufactured in the UK.
In 2010, 2 fathers were watching their children showjumping when one asked the other whether he knew of an additive that would render hoof oil antimicrobial. The 2 Dads were John Stanley, a master farrier with 22 years experience and Dr Richard Hixson, a consultant anaesthetist who had an interest in antimicrobial coatings. John had witnessed firsthand the detrimental effects of hoof infections and wanted to offer his clients a product that would prevent problems occurring. The discussion continued for some months and, after a period of research, development and experimentation with manufacturing methods, Silverfeet Hoof Balm was created.
The team ultimately decided on a natural oil/beeswax base combined with a medical-grade silver complex. Laboratory and field tests showed these constituents, when combined through a patent-pending manufacturing method, produced a balm that did not freeze or melt at extremes of temperature, was safe to apply to the wall, sole and frog on a daily basis and yet was highly effective in reducing bacterial contamination within just a few hours of application.
To successfully incorporate silver into the base ingredients was a crucial step in the development process. Although a number of heavy metals are known to be antimicrobial, they are either too expensive, too toxic or are required in concentrations too high to be of practical use. The antimicrobial properties of silver have been utilised for thousands of years and fortunately this effect is exhibited in a very low, safe concentration.
“Silver really is an excellent choice for our product,” says Richard Hixson. “It prevents bacteria growing, disrupts their energy supply and stops them reproducing. Unlike antibiotics, resistance does not occur and unlike harsh chemicals, it is safe for use as prevention. The silver incorporated in Silverfeet is exactly the same as found in medical equipment and countless other commercially available products; even socks and riding hats.”
Through careful selection of constituents, Silverfeet is manufactured free from all prohibited substances listed in current FEI publications and complies with the rules of racing. The balm primarily works by creating an effective barrier against the environment whilst the beeswax maintains the silver in close contact with the hoof surface, reducing contamination and promoting healthy development.
“The laboratory results were amazing,” says John Stanley. “But the most important test was always going to be the response of horse owners and farriers. The feedback however has been fantastic with regular use resulting in healthier hooves, less odour, less tenderness and in some cases, shoes staying on for longer when previously they were regularly lost. If I have one complaint, it would be that I find myself blunting my knife more frequently as the hooves are just so healthy and strong.”
Silverfeet is available in 4 colours — natural, girly pink and boys’ blue and black — designed to encourage children to participate in hoof care. Although the colours do not alter but enhance natural hoof appearance and produce a lasting shine, the Silverfeet Team were concerned they would be misinterpreted and viewed only as a gimmick. They felt however that it was essential to engage with children and encourage them to care for their ponies’ feet and, with the pink and blue selling so well, the team believe they have achieved their goal in this respect.
“Although primarily endorsed by show-jumpers and eventers such as Michael Whitaker, Tim Stockdale, Laura Renwick and Nicola Wilson,” says Rob Fawcett, Business Director. “There is simply no reason why Silverfeet cannot be used across all disciplines. In addition, Silverfeet is designed and manufactured in Britain and it’s great to introduce such a fantastic product into the market at this time.”
“The number of farriers using and recommending Silverfeet is increasing rapidly,” says John. “And we believe this is due to them seeing the benefits first hand. Silverfeet prevents problems occurring and is cost-effective compared with expensive and time-consuming treatment options. We were keen to develop the Silverfeet-Farrier relationship and so elected to sponsor both the England Farrier and Apprentice Farrier Teams at a very early stage. This has certainly been an extremely positive experience for us as a new company.”
With an established UK market, the team is now looking to expand its operations to Europe, North America and the Middle East. “Our goal is to support everyone in maintaining their horse’s feet in the best possible condition” says the team. “We have many caring owners and talented farriers in the UK and Silverfeet now provides both these groups with an effective hoof care product that truly works.”
Silverfeet is available in 400 ml jars, 2.5 and 5 litre tubs can be purchased from all good tack shops or directly from www.silverfeet.co.uk.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Silverfeet on Facebook (Silverfeet) and Twitter (@hoofbalm).