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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • fracture;
  • impact load;
  • long bone;
  • video tracking;
  • kicking injury

Summary

Reasons for performing study: There are no detailed studies describing the resistance of equine tibiae and radii to side impact loads, such as a horse kick and a better understanding of the general long bone impact behavioural model is required.

Objectives: To quantify the typical impact energy required to fracture or fissure an equine long bone, as well as to determine the range and time course of the impact force under conditions similar to that of a horse kick.

Methods: Seventy-two equine tibiae and radii were investigated using a drop impact tester. The prepared bones were preloaded with an axial force of 2.5 kN and were then hit in the middle of the medial side. The impact velocity of the metal impactor, weighting 2 kg, was varied within the range of 6–11 m/s. The impact process was captured with a high-speed camera from the craniomedial side of the bone. The videos were used both for slow-motion observation of the process and for quantifying physical parameters, such as peak force via offline video tracking and subsequent numerical derivation of the ‘position vs. time’ function for the impactor.

Results: The macroscopic appearance of the resultant bone injuries was found to be similar to those produced by authentic horse kicks, indicating a successful simulation of the real load case. The impact behaviours of tibiae and radii do not differ considerably in terms of the investigated general characteristics. Peak force occurred between 0.15–0.30 ms after the start of the impact. The maximum contact force correlated with the 1.45-power of the impact velocity if no fracture occurred (Fmax≅ 0.926 ·vi1.45). Peak force scatter was considerably larger within the fractured sub-group compared with fissured bones. The peak force for fracture tended to lie below the aforementioned function, within the range of Fmax= 11–23 kN (‘fracture load’). The impact energy required to fracture a bone varied from 40–90 J.

Conclusions: The video-based measuring method allowed quantifying of the most relevant physical parameters, such as contact force and energy balance.

Potential relevance: The results obtained should help with the development of bone implants and guards, supporting theoretical studies, and in the evaluation of bone injuries.