Lead Affects Duration Of Hoof-To-Ground Contact On Turns

Research has show that sharp turns increase the risk of ligament-related limb injuries in racehorses and that catastrophic injuries are more likely to occur on a turn than on a track straightaway.

In natural settings, how an animal negotiates curves while moving is important to survival, especially during interactions with a predator where speed alone may not ensure escape. Horses routinely travel in curves and bends while at liberty, racing and in other disciplines. The increased force on front limbs while galloping on a turn is suspected to be associated with increased injury risk.

Drs. Rebecca Parkes, Thilo Pfau, Renate Weller and Thomas Witte created an experiment using seven Thoroughbreds galloping on large radius curves. Each horse was equipped with an inertial measurement unit with GPS on their sacrum, as well as with two hoof-mounted accelerometers and retro-reflective markers on their front legs.

Each horse galloped counterclockwise around the track two to four times; they were filmed at 120 frames per second by 10 cameras. The scientists determined speed and curve from the GPS information and estimated the centripetal acceleration. The accelerometers provided information on stride, swing durations, stance and the percent of the total stride that the hoof is on the ground. The front-leg markers tracked limb angles.

For horses that galloped on the correct lead, the left front leg was on the ground longer on both the straightaway and the curve; for horses that galloped on the right lead, there was no difference in length of time the hoof was on the ground on the straightaway or the curve.

The researchers conclude that the forces at play on a horse’s leg when it runs on a curve are complex and that more research is needed. They note that the study doesn’t take into account the hind limbs of galloping horses, which mainly propel the horse forward, while the forelimbs apply vertical impulse to the horse’s body. They suggest that additional work be done regarding the role of the hind legs, horizontal body bend and the effects of torque on limbs when a horse is running on a curve.

Read the study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

The post Lead Affects Duration Of Hoof-To-Ground Contact On Turns appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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