There is a high prevalence of lameness among Standardbred trotters, most commonly caused by noninfectious joint diseases, mainly related to training and competition. In this context, impact-related shock waves transmitted through the skeleton and joints have been proposed to be one important factor in the development of osteoarthritis. The aim of the present study was to investigate the characteristic pattern of the events immediately following first contact, with a focus on the in vivo transmission of impact shock waves in the distal forelimb.
Two horses were trotted by hand over a force plate. Recordings of 3-D kinematics of the distal forelimb were carried out by use of a 240 Hz video system. Tri-axial accelerometer data were collected from a bone-mounted accelerometer on the midlateral side of the third metacarpal bone (McIII) and from another accelerometer attached to the lateral side of the hoof. Force plate and accelerometer data were sampled at 4.8 kHz using a 16-bit A/D-converter, synchronised with the kinematic data. The results indicate that the time lapse of the horizontal retardation of the hoof is an important factor in the attenuation of the impact. A shorter period of hoof braking showed higher amplitudes in the longitudinal retardation of McIII and a more rapid oscillation. This makes all parameters that affect the horizontal hoof braking potentially important to the orthopaedic health of the horse.