A compromise between barefoot and shod foot. There is a saying around the barefoot world that is fast becoming a cliché – “those horses that most need shoes also need to get out of them the most”.
More often than not, it is the continual wearing of shoes that has weakened the feet in the first place and created the downward cycle, ironically increasing the dependence upon further shoe use. Quite simply, horses’ feet do not get better with each subsequent shoeing. If horses need their feet protected when being worked because their feet are simply not up to the task of being ridden barefoot, the best option is rubber boots with foam pads.
There is something about putting a yielding layer between the horse and the hard Australian ground that is surely one of the greatest advancements in our endeavours to keep horses sound in the long term. It just makes sense! However, there are scenarios when hoof boots are not an option (whether that is due to legislation, practicalities or even safety issues). So what can we do? Just ‘slip’ a pair of shoes on? And get back in the same old rut! There have been quite a few horses over the last few years that have gone back to shoes, despite the attempts of their owners who have tried to keep them barefoot, particularly in the dressage and eventing world. These horses have mostly failed as barefoot performers because the soles beneath their pedal bones are just not thick enough. However, horse owners are more aware than ever of the long term implications of horseshoeing.
The science underpinning barehoofcare is sound, but the practicalities in our domestic horse world are often challenging – people have horses to ride. People want to be able to ride but they don’t necessarily want to have their horses shod. What about a compromise? A compromise that protects the foot where it most needs protecting (at the toe) without taking away the all important functions (at the heel); a compromise that works in situations that hoof boots can’t.
Introducing the humble Laser Tip ™:
A Laser Tip is a piece of high carbon sheet steel that has been laser cut to the shape of a horse’s foot (the outline of the sole which is the true footprint) and is designed to cover and reinforce the sole in the toe region of the hoof. Tips aim to protect thin soles, while at the same time allowing the back half of the foot to perform as normal with the frog weightbearing and effective. Laser tips are a modern reincarnation of a much older idea; the humble grass tip that many racing horses wore prior to the development of aluminum plates. Now with technology, shapes can be cut from steel sheet by laser beam. Laser tips are a compromise between barefoot and shod, offering partial protection where it is needed, without affecting vital hoof function. Unlike shoeing, tips appear to improve the foot with each successive refit.
When do laser tips work well?
Tips work well on any horses that have thin or sensitive soles. Tips can provide a rigid short breakover (as well as extra support) to feet that are run forward in the toe and need to be significantly ‘backed up’. Tips are useful as an aid to transitioning a horse out of shoes. Tips seem to be especially useful for that first month when shoes come off feet that are too deformed to dress back to the correct shape for boots. Tips can be used as a short term option for horses that need a bit of extra protection for a hard ride (eg a few days of mustering or trail riding). Tips can provide improved grip.
“From The Barehoofcare Website”