OUR POLYFLEX STORY:
Although Minnesota is my home state, I got started working on the racetrack in South Dakota at age 15. Throughout my teenage years I rode Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred races, then began training Thoroughbred racehorses on the East Coast. On the other side of the pond in England, Diane was enrolled in a Thoroughbred Management program that eventually brought her to the States.
Nearly 25 years ago now, Diane and I met at Gulfstream Park, Florida. She was completing her internship as an exercise rider and I was working as an assistant trainer. Married one year later in 1994 – we started our life together.
After training a small racing stable together for a few years, I became a full-time farrier in 1995. Even so, neither one of us ever imagined we would end up producing horseshoes.
As fate would have it, in early 2002 I was struggling to find a solution for a client’s 3-year-old filly named Once Around. She was recovering from an injury to her foot, and wasn't responding well to traditional methods of shoeing. She was only completely comfortable when barefoot.
With the idea in mind to make a shoe from alternative material to metal, I approached our friend Joe Schrage who had some experience using polyurethane. Joe offered to work with us as we produced our initial prototypes. I thought that maybe a shoe that could simulate being barefoot would help her.
In our home garage, and after much trial and error we created our first set of polyurethane shoes and glued them on the filly. When all was said and done Once Around moved out sound.
From there forward, Once Around continued in training fitted with the polyurethane shoes over a period of 10 weeks. The injury to her foot was behind her and she was able to return to traditional nailed on aluminum racing plates. She went on to win a Stakes race at Monmouth Park that summer. Afterwards, we retired the original molds and know-how to a shelf in our garage just in case another horse came along with a similar problem. We never even considered that those shoes would have a future.
Originally, we called the shoes “Burns Polyflex Shoe” however as time went by we started to refer to the shoes as just "Polyflex".
Only a few short years later, while working for Todd Pletcher he asked me to take a look at a filly named Ever Elusive. I made the call to try her in a set of the Polyflex shoes. She not only improved but won several races in the shoes including the Winning Colors Stakes at Churchill Downs. As a result, the shoes were publicly mentioned as a feature in The Blood-Horse magazine and Polyflex Horseshoes became our business.
Today, Diane & I live in Wellington, Florida where we design and produce our Polyflex horseshoes. Over the years and as a team, we have successfully designed 10 different shoe patterns that are available & used in many disciplines of the equine industry. Currently I spend my time designing & improving our product line, shoeing horses and offering education opportunities for glue on shoes, constructive & quarter crack repair. Diane is the friendly voice you hear when you call to place an order, as she manages the company office. From assisting customers with product selection & application to monitoring quality of the shoe production & keeping the books – Diane ensures that our small business, always does good business.
We are grateful to have had the opportunity to make a difference in this industry and plan to continue to do our best for the horse.