A Lesson In Metallurgy: Aluminum vs. Steel vs. Tempered Tool Steel​ Horseshoes

Horseshoes are made from numerous types of materials, including steel, aluminum, rubber and plastic. What are the differences and similarities between the metal shoes, specifically aluminum, steel and the tempered tool steel that is used to manufacture Razer horseshoes?

Studies show that a heavier shoe increases strain on the legs and increases risk for lameness. Aluminum makes light horseshoes such as racing plates, and various bar shoes including egg, straight and heart bars, where its lightness makes it a favorite for therapeutic use. Aluminum, however, doesn’t wear as well as steel and is more expensive. Steel is heavier, but has excellent resistance to wear and can be easily forged for custom, handmade shoes.

Traditional steel and aluminum shoes are similar in that they are rigid in shape, locking the foot in place and preventing natural hoof movement. Through science and technology, Razerhorse has crafted a tempered tool steel shoe that combines the benefits of steel and aluminum shoes while allowing the hoof to flex and function naturally.

Let’s break down the how and why of tempered tool steel:

Tool steel–a variety of carbon and alloy steels with a distinctive hardness (resistance to abrasion and deformation). This equates to better wear resistance.
Tempering–achieving greater toughness (resistance to fracture) by decreasing the hardness of the alloy, which in turn increases ductility, thereby decreasing the brittleness of the metal. This equates to the ability to resist shock-loading with minimal deformation.

In terms of horseshoe performance, this means Razer horseshoes are able to flex with the hoof capsule, and wear the same (if not better) than traditional steel. Due to the design of the Razer shoe, it is nearly half the weight of a traditional steel shoe, more similar to the weight of an aluminum shoe.

Although the metal is able to flex without breaking, it is not without limits. The yield strength (strength beyond which deformation becomes permanent) allows you to cold shape the shoes on an anvil or stall jack, however, if you over shape them you risk testing the tensile strength (the ultimate breaking strength). Due to tempering, Razer shoes cannot be placed in a forge like traditional steel.

Razer horseshoes are an excellent alternative to traditional steel or aluminum shoes, providing wear protection and traction with barefoot function. Their benefits are proven in both harness racing, barrel racing, and mounted shooting, with their use expanding into additional disciplines including hunter/jumpers, eventing, team roping, and more.

Razerhorse is a hoof care company that promotes better health and performance through science and technology. Razerhorse products are designed to mimic the natural function of the hoof while providing the protection needed for today’s performance horses. Razerhorse currently offers two products: the Razer horseshoe, a tempered tool steel shoe that allows the hoof to flex like a bare foot, and the Propad, a shock-absorbing polyurethane hoof pad that features an accordion-like frog support. To learn more about Razer shoes and Propads or to find a dealer near you, visit or call 855-95-RAZER.






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