Farriery and the Coffin Joint: Breakover Techniques, AAEP 2008

"Breakover (defined as the moment the heels lift off the ground) is very much affected by the surface the horse works on," began Hans Castelijns, DVM, Certified Farrier, of Cortona, Italy, during the "Putting Science into Farriery" session at the 2008 Convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners. "Soft ground eases breakover by letting the toe sink in. And we must keep in mind that no matter what we change, the horse is still going to weigh 1,000 pounds and load his limbs at the same speed. We can't get rid of the load, we can only shift it around."

He explained that improving breakover at the toe (by shortening/beveling the toe) to reduce the leverage required for the foot to break over can help the heels by reducing how much they move inward during breakover. "You have more heels left when you go to re-shoe these horses," he noted.

He also discussed several types of shoes with enhanced breakover at the toe and/or around the sides as well. To determine what type of breakover enhancement a horse might find the most comfortable, he suggested using the European "board test." Read more about this technique.

About the Author

Christy M. West

Christy West has a BS in Equine Science from the University of Kentucky, and an MS in Agricultural Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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