A field study on hoof deceleration at impact in Standardbred trotters at various speeds

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Abstract

Impact-related peak decelerations with high loading rates are described as indicators of mechanical stress to the limb. The hoof deceleration pattern in the beginning of the stance phase has recently been described, together with ground reaction force measurements at slow speed; however, no information is available at high speeds. The objective of the present study was to investigate the hoof deceleration pattern following impact at slow speeds, comparable to earlier force plate studies, and at high speeds on a racetrack. Eight Standardbreds equipped with triaxial accelerometers mounted on fore- and hind hooves were driven from a jogcart on a harness-training racetrack with a stone dust surface at the mean speeds of 4.7, 5.7, 10.1 and 12.7 m s−1. The accelerometer signals were sampled at 10 kHz during 10 s of constant speed along one straight of the racetrack. The signal was studied for each speed by the analysis of representative peak decelerations. At slow trot, the deceleration pattern was similar to what was found in earlier studies over the force plate. The peak values of both the vertical and horizontal decelerations increased significantly with a higher speed (P ≤ 0.01). It was shown that a higher speed results in changes of the hoof deceleration pattern with higher peak decelerations. The maximum horizontal deceleration, together with the second vertical peak deceleration, were suggested to be major indicators on the mechanical stress subjected to the limb.

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