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These horses are well-heeled

By Rhoda Miel, UT Akron BureauKasota, Minnesota-Injection moulder Rolco Inc. is banking on a horseshoe of a different colour.The Kasota, Minnesota-based firm has added a new two-shot press and annealing ovens to begin making a thermoplastic polyurethane horseshoe that aims to become the equivalent of a designer sports shoe for the equine set.”I can’t help but think that if I were a horse, I think I’d prefer one of these to those iron things,” said Mark McCourtney, vice president of sales and marketing.The two-colour shoe, made with special blends of TPU engineered by Huntsman Corp. to provide stability and flexibility, is the first two-shot polymer shoe available in North America, said Larry Schlasinger, director of Easywalker USA llc. Chetek, Wisconsin-based Easywalker is the firm that hired Rolco.The vast majority of horseshoes sold in the United States are the same iron design that have shod horses for centuries. But, with an annual sales base estimated at $80 million, the horseshoe business is big.”The market seems huge,” McCourtney said. “Even if they get just a small percentage of the market, it could be a great business.”A major breakthrough will not be easy, though. Easywalker’s shoe sells at $13, compared with about $2 for a standard iron shoe. Even considering that the urethane system can outlast metal on some surfaces and Schlasinger’s take on improved animal health with the lighter, flexible system, Easywalker faces a steep sales curve.”

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