A proposal to try out rubber horse shoes in the Daviess County Amish community received a less than enthusiastic reception this week. Daviess County Commissioners are looking for ways to cut down on damage caused by horses on paved roads, and agreed to purchase five sets of rubber shoes for people in the Amish community to try out.
"We took the idea to the safety committee meeting," said Daviess County Highway Supervisor Phil Cornelius. "The response felt kind of vague. The gentleman we talked to did not think we needed five sets to evaluate them. He thought two would be enough. It did not feel like a ringing endorsement."
Daviess County officials say they feel the shoes do need a good trial on the roads.
"The more paved roads we get (in the Amish community) the greater the necessity for something like this," said Cornelius. "Commissioner Michael Taylor has been researching for quite some time and found these shoes called Magnus Shoes. They're made in Germany. We want to find five people willing to run them on their horse, pull their buggy and get feedback from them."
Officials point out the growth in eastern Daviess County has raised traffic counts and that means paving more roads. The pavement, though, takes a beating from the horses.
"We're doing a lot of paving there," said Commissioner Tom McCracken. "The traffic count is high and that's why we are doing it. If you watch you can see where the horses go on the blacktop because they leave a lot of damage. Those grooves can get pretty deep and wind up throwing a car or a truck. If we can somehow stop that, we can preserve those roads a lot longer. "
Because they are on back order, Daviess County officials say the rubber shoes they want to try won't be arriving until August. Still, they believe correcting the problem with the horses damaging the roads is preferable to some of the alternatives.
"We've been talking a long time on ways to run offense instead of defense on the horseshoes," said Cornelius. "We need to slow down the damage to the roads or alleviate it. We can do all we can to the road, but at the end of the day the road that holds up the best is concrete. That is the very worst thing for the horses. They can't get traction on it and we don't want to create an unsafe situation for them to make our road last longer."
Another alternative would be to raise the cost of buggy licenses. Officials say last year the licenses generated $122,000. That amount is not considered nearly enough to cover the road repairs for horse damage.
"If they help, I'm definitely interested in those rubber horse shoes," said McCracken.