Basic Shoeing: Options for Break Over in Everyday Work

By Doug Workman, CJF APF

There are many thoughts on the subject of break over as it pertains to the horse’s foot and limb function. I would like to discuss some of the options we have using modifications to keg shoes, as well as shoes manufactured with modifications built-in by the manufacturer. This is my opinion only but I do not like to set shoes back off the toe in most situations. I prefer to fit the foot and modify the shoe to alter break over of the foot. There are many variations that we can use and it can be like putting a puzzle together, every time we add a piece the picture becomes more visible. There are many things to consider when determining type of modification or shoe we use for each horse, but my starting point is conformation, age, job or discipline, and type of footing the horse is working in. The three basic modifications I use most are rolled toe, rocker toe and half round or roller type shoe.

The rolled toe is a simple modification that can be achieved with your hammer, rasp, grinder or manufactured shoe. The foot surface of the shoe remains flat and the ground surface of the toe is beveled to reduce leverage or purchase of the toe. I find this modification helpful with horses being worked on synthetic footing. Synthetic footing for the most part does not allow the foot to slide or slip at all and by reducing the purchase of the toe the horses seem to move better and stay sounder. For the most part, I roll the toe of my shoe with my grinder on keg shoes. And, I also like the Kerckhaert Comfort shoe in steel and aluminum because the toe is already rolled.

The rocker toe is a more aggressive modification achieved by breaking the plane of the foot at the toe on the shoe and foot. This modification allows you to move the break over point farther back than the rolled toe while still maintaining weight bearing on the toe wall. I like this modification on many of my older horses. I think it gives them a little help dealing with those old joints. I will also rocker the toes for some horses on synthetic surfaces for the same reasons I mentioned above.
Roller or Half round shoes have the entire outside and inside edge of the shoe beveled or rounded from heel to heel. These are great shoes for that conformational challenge you may encounter. The design of the shoe allows you to shoe the foot without creating corners the horse will need to compensate for while moving. I like this shoe on horses that are working on a firmer surface, it gets in the ground a little bit and its rolled design can compensate for some conformation issues, such as angular deviations causing slight toe-in or toe-out. I like the Kerckhaert SX Roller in smaller sizes up to 1 and the Classic Roller for larger feet.

I do not believe that all horses need to have enhanced break over. I think horses need all the purchase they can physically use but that is different in all horses. Do not be afraid to experiment. What you experience on your own, you will never forget, especially the things that don’t go your way.

This article is from The Natural Angle Volume 14, Issue 1 – written by Doug Workman, CJF APF . For more Natural Angle articles and tips, click here.


Doug Workman, CJF APF

Doug started shoeing horses full time in 1989. He completed his AFA certified level in 1992 and the Certified Journeyman certification in 1994. He has been a member of the Georgia Professional Farriers Association since 1992 and has served as President. He became an approved tester for the AFA certification in 1998. Doug is currently a board member for the newly formed American Association of Professional Farriers. Doug’s practice is concentrated on shoeing Hunter/Jumpers and Dressage horses. His passion is helping others achieve their goals in the farrier trade as his many mentors have helped him to do. He has been working as a clinician with FPD for the past few years and has received positive response to his common sense approach to shoeing.


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