Hoof landing velocity is related to track surface properties in trotting horses

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The resistance of a track surface to deformation is known to be positively related to the magnitude of foot impact experienced during locomotion. Although passive mechanics suggests that this might be entirely due to the action of the track surface material decelerating the foot, it is also possible that the dynamics of locomotion are altered in a way that changes the landing velocity of the foot. The observed relationship between track properties and foot impact would then be due to a combination of the direct effect of the surface material and altered foot kinematics at impact. In this study we measured hoof landing velocity, stance time and limb landing angle in horses trotting over surfaces that differed significantly in their deformability. In comparison with a surface that underwent negligible deformation during stance phase, a surface that deformed 25 mm led to significantly increased stance time, significantly greater leg landing angle and significantly greater hoof landing velocity. Although the increased hoof landing velocity would act to counteract the increased shock absorption on the softer surface, we suggest that this effect is relatively small.

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