FormaHoof goes Endurance
by Robert Stevenson
As some might know, FormaHoof Co-Founder Robert Stevenson and his father Bill have dedicated their lives to endurance horses and their training. With Bill and Robert’s facilities in Queensland, Australia, we have the possibility to test FormaHoof products to their limits on their horses, through full training and competition schedules.
Recently, the Stevensons have collaborated with Bonnybrooke Stud, home of Kelso Racing, and enjoyed a great weekend of weather and competition at the Sterling Crossing equestrian facilities at Imbil Queensland Australia.
In a project that has been many years in the making, Bill Stevenson had prepared his stock horse cross gelding “Jack” for the first major 80 km ride at Stirling Crossing this year. Jack is a 10-year-old Stock horse cross that has been trained in FormaHoof on both the pea gravel walker and the treadmill, with intermediate riding on gravel roads at Bill’s property In Bracewell, Central Queensland.
Endurance training and FormaHoof testing facilities at the Stevenson farm in Queensland/Australia
Jack is trained out of the paddock and spends very little time in the stable. This means that he spends a lot of his time moving around and grazing over his 4ha paddock and consequently does a lot of miles in his FormaHoof. During his training, Jack can cover an average of between 22 and 40 kilometres a day. This has allowed us to observe wear patterns and hoof growth over a long period of time. Check out this video at Bill’s facilities to see one of the horses in training, whilst testing FormaHoof over 350km.
What we quickly learned was that horses wore their FormaHoof applications in a similar way to how they wear natural hoof, often wearing the application through at the toe first and mimicking the natural break over of a healthy hoof. What we realised was that once the horse has worn through the toe of the application, it doesn’t continue to wear the hoof, instead just maintaining its breakover and leaving the rest of the hoof covered and protected from the base. (Horse shown in above video is not Jack)
Jack’s and Renee Kelso’s first race at Stirling Crossing in FormaHoof
Jack has been trained informally for three years, with a small break in the middle while Covid stopped competitions here in Queensland.
Being the first race of the year and as it was still a little warm, Bill chose an experienced, lightweight jockey in Renee Kelso from Kelso racing, rather than his usual heavier-weight jockey – his son Peter Stevenson.
Given that it would be the first time Renee would get to ride Jack, Bill chose to take him down a few days early to the Kelso Racing stables in Gympie Australia. Here he had his FormaHoof application, 2 days out from the race.
Given the conditions on course at Stirling Crossing were extremely hard and rocky from the logging trucks, the roads became equivalent to a 30 grit sanding belt running against the FormaHoof application! Consequently, we chose to add an aluminium race plate for a wearing surface, fitted tight to the hoof perimeter to prevent risk of overreaching. This also gives us the opportunity to replace the plate at any stage during the race due to wear or loss, and because you are only nailing into plastic, the FormaHoof protects the hoof while you ride back in and have the plate replaced at the next vet check.
Testing the limits for horse and rider on the steepest terrain of Australia’s Sunshine Coast
The race started at 2pm at the world-class purpose-built endurance facility Stirling Crossing and the course was described by Matt Sample as “one of the toughest” he has set! Due to last minutes changes to the road availability, it actually measured 85 km rather than 80 and travelled through some of the steepest terrain in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.
With vet checks and pre-ride completed in the morning, riders were advised of the new track and warned the second 45 km leg through the steep hill country would be completed after dark and would be very challenging.
Racing in the dark and a close finish with the confidence of protected hooves in FormaHoof
Jack and Renee came in first from their first 40 km loop with a 2:30 lead. Renee spoke about Jack’s springy stride across the rocks on the first 40km and hoped that it would help when heading out onto the steep rocky section of the 45km course.
This was the area Renee spoke about the confidence she had in the dark, knowing Jack’s feet were properly protected and being able to let him really stride out over the steep sections both up and down the hills.
Endurance Racing in FormaHoof - Renee Kelso shares her experience
Given that it was Jack’s first 80km in 12 month, Renee did a great job of looking after him on the course, coming through the next vet gate in second position by 15 minutes and then only taking 12 minutes to vet through.
Jack and Renee finished in a very credible 2nd place over all, with a very experienced and seasoned campaigner taking top spot on the day.The post race interview with Renee gives some insight into the advantages she could feel from have such a complete hoof protection package in place in the tough sport of Endurance.
We look forward to Jack’s next race at Stirling Crossing at Easter this April!
Visit FormaHoof Co-Founder Robert Stevenson at the next race!
If you want to see FormaHoof in action at Stirling Crossing, come and join the event and have a chat with Rob, Bill and rider Renee about FormaHoof and Jack’s enhanced performance thanks to his added FormaHoof comfort and protection. All event information and timings can be found on the Stirling Crossing’s website. Please note, Robert’s attendance of the Easter event was cancelled due to recently introduced strict lockdown in QLD.
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