Long Rider makes Horse Shoeing History
Sometimes it takes a little time for all the pieces to fall into place.
But when the elements are aligned history is made and nothing is ever the same again.
That’s the case in regards to an innovative product called Superfast which The Long Riders’ Guild first reported on in the winter of 2003.
Though The Guild’s initial investigation into this remarkable alternative to traditional steel horse shoes was inconclusive, horse shoeing history may have just been made in the one of the world’s most dangerous mountain ranges.
For it is in the treacherous Karakorum mountains of northern Pakistan, one of the highest ranges in the world, that an inventive young British equestrian explorer who was caught in the mountains without horse shoes, turned to an amazing American product in desperation.
The rest of the story, as they say, is “history.”
The product in question, Superfast, is made by the Vettec company.
Superfast is a fast setting urethane material originally designed to help horses who had suffered damage to their hoof wall.
Yet it didn’t take long before someone realized that the material, which became rock hard in about two minutes, might be strong enough to replace traditional horse shoes in an emergency situation.
Having received positive reports about what might serve as an “emergency spare tyre” for the world’s equestrian explorers, The Long Riders’ Guild made an initial test of Superfast in late 2003.
However, due to the severe winter conditions, the results were indecisive yet promising.
Enter English Long Rider Steve McCutcheon.
Steve is busy riding 10,000 kilometers from Delhi, India to Beijing, China.
No one has undertaken this extraordinary equestrian journey since Major Clarence Bruce rode the distance back in 1905.
Long Rider Steve McCutcheon can be seen as he sets off from the famous Red
Fort in Delhi, India in 2005.
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
Though the date on the calendar has changed between these two Long Riders, Steve has discovered that many of the same hardships faced by Major Bruce still exist today.
These include bureaucratic entanglements and geographic dangers.
Steve encountered the first problem when he got caught up in the red tape and suspicion that exists between India and neighboring Pakistan.
Even though he was the first person in modern history to have ridden between these two mistrusting neighbors, Steve’s Indian born horse was not allowed to enter Pakistan.
Then, after having procured two new horses in Lahore, Steve was nearly killed in the gigantic earthquake that hit Pakistan this Autumn.
But with governmental problems and earthquakes behind him, the young Long Rider headed his two new mares towards a still distant China.
Even though he was more than a thousand kilometers away from the Chinese border, and the winter snows were about to fall, Steve was confident that he could make it.
The only problem was that In front of him lay the notorious Karakorum mountains, one of the most geologically unstable mountain ranges in the world.
Shaky mountains tumbling down on your head?
No horse shoes?
In the Long Rider’s world that’s even worse.
When he found himself miles from help and in need of horse shoes, this far-sighted English Long Rider pulled out the tube of Superfast he had been storing in the bottom of his pack box for just such an emergency.
And there, on the far side of the world, it appears that horse shoe history may have been made.
But let Steve tell us what happened.
“It was the 10th December. What lay ahead was nothingness. For long stretches we just trotted along barren rock. There was no grass, only scree and rock. Rock! That word cannot be stressed enough. The Indus river flowing below became narrower and the mountains more ominous. The biggest worry to me was the lack of people. Villages existed, but in impossible locations far above and below the road….This was Indus Kohistan. The area was certainly remote, with little water and little life…It's a hostile place and the people are a reflection of that. Slightly wild, they see few outsiders. Few stop here. The land used to be called 'Yagistan' or 'land of the ungoverned' because cutthroats could hide in the many side valleys that riddle the region,” Steve reported.
|Steve’s journey took him and his two mares deep into the Karakorum mountains of northern Pakistan. The intrepid threesome travelled along the Karakorum Highway, a torturous two lane road that runs above the wild Indus river seen here.|
“Four days after fixing new shoes on the mares, they needed doing again. I cursed the fool who had fixed such low quality metal to my horse's feet. They turned out to have been locally made from reinforcement iron. Yet I cursed myself too for not having had the foresight to purchase better quality extra ones back in Islamabad. Luckily I did have spares with me but they were the same low quality as the ones presently being used. The only problem was that the only available farrier was 60 kilometers further along the Karakorum Highway at the village of Chilas and time was not on my side.
The logical solution would have been to go straight to Chilas and bring a farrier back with me and have the mares feet fixed once and for all…I on the other hand decided to do it myself. I was short on time and I had a solution. I have with me a product called Superfast made by a reputable company called Vettec in the USA. This hoof care product applies to the bottom of the hoof and sets in 2.5 minutes,” the Long Rider recalled.
|Despite his lack of experience, Long Rider Steve McCutcheon was able to use Superfast to create “emergency” horse shoes under harsh conditions.|
The reasons for its use here were simple. The Chinese border was due to close in two weeks. I was short on time and all six shoes were completely worn down. The Superfast user guide seemed easy to understand and the gel would take only 3 minutes to apply to each shoe….
As an emergency solution, there is little to rival the adaptability of this product. I was able to fit temporary 'shoes' to the hooves under a variety of circumstances…. My route now lies through China , where the distances are greater and the availability of farriers less. Superfast will be even more valuable to this expedition and given my prior experience I will be able to put this product even further to the test,” Steve wrote from Chinese Turkestan.
|Long Rider Steve McCutcheon has now crossed into China and is continuing his historic journey towards Beijing.|
To learn more about Steve’s journey, please go to his main page.
To learn about Steve’s ride through the Karakorum mountains please visit his website.
To read Steve’s full report on Superfast, please
To learn more about Superfast, please visit - http://www.vettec.com/65/products/superfast.html
To read The Long Riders’ Guild original report on Superfast, please visit -
To read The Long Riders’ Guild policy on testing equestrian travel equipment, please visit - http://www.thelongridersguild.com/Equipment.htm
All photos appear courtesy of Long Rider Steve McCutcheon.
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