Reasons for performing study: Track surface quality is considered a risk factor of musculoskeletal injuries. Ground reaction force (GRF) measurement is a relevant approach to study the interaction between the hoof and the ground. Force plates are not adapted to compare different surfaces at high speed. A 3D dynamometric horseshoe (DHS), using 4 triaxial piezoelectric sensors, has been developed and validated.
Objectives: To use the DHS to compare the effects of 2 track surfaces, an all-weather waxed track and a crushed sand track, on the GRF in trotter horses under training conditions.
Methods: The right forelimb of 3 French Trotters was equipped with the DHS. Two tracks were tested in a straight line: a crushed sand track (S) and an all-weather waxed track (W). For each session, trials were repeated 3 times in a Latin square design. The speed of the runs was set at 10 m/s and recorded synchronously. For each trial, data acquisition was performed at 600 Hz and 10 consecutive strides were analysed. Statistical differences were tested using a general linear model procedure.
Results: The amplitude of the maximal longitudinal braking force (Fx) was significantly lower on W compared to S. This event happened about 6% later in the stance phase on W. The magnitude of the GRF at impact decreased on W. The average speed and the mean stance phase duration were not statistically different on both surfaces. The stride length was about 6 cm longer on S.
Conclusion and potential relevance: This study demonstrates the ability and sensitivity of the DHS to discriminate track surfaces by measuring the GRF at high speed. These preliminary results show that the loading rate, the amplitude of horizontal braking and shock at impact are attenuated on W, which suggests a reduction of stresses in the distal limb.