Scientists are using inertial sensors to learn how horse hooves interact with the ground. This information will help researchers discover more about the strain on horse's legs and the causes of injury. Dr. Jeff Thomason at the Ontario Veterinary College has been studying hoof/ground interaction as well as shock and the forces that act on the horse's leg while he is in motion. Thomason's studies have used a variety of surfaces and conditions in both sport-horse and racing disciplines.
Alexis Szpakowski, a student at the Veterinary College, created a study using 10 horses of various weights. She glued an accelerometer and three strain gauges to the front hooves to measure the strain and acceleration placed on the hoof while the horse is in motion.
One rider worked the horse at a trot on two surfaces: a soft sand outdoor and an indoor arena with a firm sand mix. The implements recorded loading measurements for impact, slide and mid-stance.
The results showed that each loading measurement was lower on the soft sand ring by 10 to 60 percent. The slide value was not affected by the size of the horse, but larger animals have more mid-stance loading on softer surfaces.
The researchers concluded that the characteristics of the footing on which a horse is worked directly affects the loading of the hooves. The scientists hope that continued research on loading can help determine the potential mechanical causes of injury.
Read more at HorseTalk.
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