Steve Norman, who shoes Thoroughbred racehorses in Kentucky, believes breakover needs to be adjusted for each horse. On a horse with an elongated foot, he finds that a square toe or a fast-break (blunt toe) shoe can help him put the breakover point closer to the center of the foot.

More Thoughts On Breakover

Hoof-care professionals talk about the topic often, but sometimes aren’t even starting from the same definition

Breakover. Enhancing breakover. Easing breakover. Changing breakover. It’s one of the most frequently used terms in the farrier vocabulary. Everyone seems to have thoughts and opinions and — surprise, surprise — they often aren’t the same.

Breakover: What Is It?

Let’s start with a definition. According to the article “Podiatry Terminology,” published in 2007 by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, breakover is a descriptive term, defined as, “The phase of the stride between the time the heel lifts off the ground and the time the toe lifts off the ground.”

The same article, describes the breakover point as, “The most dorsal part of the ground surface, either the hoof capsule in the unshod horse or the shoe in the shod horse, that is in contact with the ground at the moment the heels begin to rise off the ground.”

Farriers are more likely to describe it as the act of lifting the foot from the ground (the heel coming up first) and rolling over the toe. Most often, they believe breakover should be at the center of the toe and describe the breakover wear point as the portion of the hoof that is last to leave the ground.

This is also a topic that horse owners, riders and trainers have seized upon.

Here are some thoughts on breakover drawn from discussions with four hoof-care professionals.

  • Tia Nelson, a veterinarian and farrier from Helena, Mont.
  • Paul Goodness, senior partner in Forge Ahead, a multi-farrier practice in Round Hill, Va.
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Heather Smith Thomas

Heather Smith Thomas is a freelance writer based in Salmon, Idaho. She has been writing books and articles for nearly 50 years.

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