I found an interesting article about heel-first landing and breakover on barefoothorse.
The barefoot movement and its veterinary researchers have come up with a reliable way to determine whether a hoof is well-trimmed overall. The indicator of a good trim is that when going on level ground, the front feet land heel-first. Just before the heel lands, you can see the foot "flip" forward as all joints in the leg go into complete extension.
In a horse with an imbalanced hoof, the toe lands first, or the foot may land flat. With toe-first landing you will see a little "wiggle" in the pastern bones-- you can almost hear them go "ka-chunk" as the horse puts weight on the foot.
So what does breakover have to do with a heel-first landing?
The location of breakover determines whether the horse's hoof will have time in the forward stride to land heel-first or not. If the toe is long-out-in-front, delaying breakover, the foreleg doesn't have time to swing far enough forward to land heel-first. It would be like walking uphill: it would land toe-first instead and the entire gait would be shortened.
1. The moment in time when the foot starts to tip forward and lift off from the ground. The heel begins to lift off the ground at the back end of the stride.
2. The position of a line across the toe idicates where the foot is able to tip forward for liftoff. The right right arrows (above) shows where the breakover is on a flat-bottom trim. If the toe is flared, breakover may be even further out in front. Breakover is delayed and the leg only has time for a shortened stride and a toe-first landing.
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