The Long Riders' Guild

Breakthrough in Long Rider Horse Shoes 

Long Riders know that just because they have managed to get their horse shod their worries are far from over. Harsh surfaces, hot roads, jagged gravel and ruthless rocks are all waiting to destroy your horse’s hooves. That’s what Ivan Denton discovered when he rode east to west across the United States in 1989. He wrote, “The steel shoes wore out so fast that his hooves couldn’t grow out fast enough for new nail holes.”

Luckily Long Riders discovered a way to save their horse’s hooves. They had a farrier place borium on the bottom of the horseshoes. Borium is a generic name for tungsten carbide crystals, which when embedded in a carrier material, provides a protective hard wearing shield to steel horseshoes.

Sergeant Robert Seney, the former United States cavalry soldier turned Long Rider, was the first to record how the use of borium dramatically increased the length which horseshoes would last if they were equipped with borium. Starting in the late 1970s Seney made six journeys in the United States during which he rode a total of 38,500 kilometres (24,000 miles). In a special article written in 1980, Seney recalled how he used borium equipped shoes for his horse, Trooper.

“Strange as it seems it is possible to cross the United States on one set of horse shoes,” Seney wrote.

In 1982 French Foreign Legionnaire turned Long Rider Jean Claude Cazade rode his Arabian stallion from France to Arabia and back. Because of the borium equipped shoes he used, Jean Claude’s horse travelled tremendous distances without any noticeable wear to the shoes.

North American Long Rider Tracy Paine also championed borium horseshoes during her 10,000 mile ride across the United States in the late 1990s. In a special report written for the Guild, Tracy said, “The most preferable shoe I have found for long distance horseback travel is a lightweight, flat iron shoe with no heel or toe calks. A shoe like this will wear paper thin and crack at the toe in only two weeks of pavement travel. Yet this same shoe, properly coated with borium, will last one year of pavement travel.”

Though Long Riders knew borium could provide a dramatic improvement the problem was finding a farrier who knew how to create these super-tough horseshoes.

The first clue that such a source existed came about in 2009 when Rick Blackburn set out with two horses to ride 4,000 kilometres (2,200 miles) from Canada to Texas. He immediately ran into problems.

“I was only able to keep horseshoes for 350 miles or two weeks before replacing them. This was a problem because the hooves were getting nailed too often, which was weakening the walls.”

Luckily Rick had heard of Roger Robinson, who runs The Blacksmith Shop in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Roger is a master farrier whose expertise is creating horseshoes specially treated with hard-wearing “drill tek” borium.

After receiving two sets of these special shoes from Roger, Rick continued his journey. The Long Rider had the shoes re-set twice during the course of his ride.

“In addition to the extra traction the borium shoes provided,” Rick wrote, “the shoes showed no sign of wear.”

Another endorsement for this master farrier’s work was recently provided by another North American Long Rider, Bernice Ende.

Bernice is on her eighth consecutive equestrian journey. During the last ten years she has ridden nearly 25,000 miles in the USA and Canada. She is currently attempting to become the first person to ride “ocean to ocean” in both directions on a single journey.

After so many thousands of miles, Bernice has learned a great deal about horse shoes and farriers.

Like Seney, Paine and Blackburn before her, Bernice has now equipped her horses with special borium horseshoes.

She too contacted Roger Robinson in Virginia, who created sets of horse shoes for Bernice’s two Fjord horses. It didn’t take long before Bernice announced how well these new style horse shoes performed.

“I have used hard-surfacing on the horseshoes before and for pavement riding it’s a must. But Roger Robinson, at the Blacksmith Shop is an authority on hard-surfacing and when I heard about him I had to call and ask about his work. He sent me two sets of DuraSafe borium horseshoes. The shoes are giving me twice as much mileage from a set of shoes; that is important. Plus, there is no slippage on ice or wet pavement; none. I cannot tell you how much this helps.  I am thrilled with the horseshoes,” Bernice informed the Guild.

The Long Riders’ Guild Equipment page contains this stern warning.

The Long Riders' Guild does not accept advertising revenue, or any type of outside funding, from anyone - ever. In other words, you can't buy your way on to this website. We're not for sale! The opinions expressed here by the various Long Riders are unvarnished, sometimes harsh, often complimentary, but always spoken from the heart. They have to be. Unlike ring riders, our lives and those of our horses depend on our gear. If a piece of equipment fails in the middle of the Amazon jungle, while riding over the Himalayas, or fording a Russian river, we can't load up our pony and go home. You don't get ribbons or trophies when you're a Long Rider. If you do it right, you and your horse make it through in one piece.”

Based upon the evidence submitted by Long Riders Rick Blackburn and Bernice Ende, it appears that Roger Robinson, at the Blacksmith Shop, is able to provide Long Riders with long-lasting horse shoes that guarantee durability and traction.

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