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Part 2: Equine White Surfaces Paper (FEI, April 2014)
15/02/2015 11:56:00

Hoof Interaction With Equestrian Surfaces
Part 2 of a series summarising its findings

The world’s most extensive study into the effect of arena surfaces on the orthopaedic health of sport horses in the seven FEI disciplines and in racing was published by the FEI in April 2014.

The Equine Surfaces White Paper was the result of a four-year collaboration between eight equine experts from six universities, three equine and racing-specific research and testing centres and two horse charities in Sweden, the UK and United States. It brings together the latest data and published scientific papers on turf and equestrian arena surfaces, and the effects these have on horses in training and in competition.

Here we look at its findings in respect of….how the hoof interacts with equestrian surfaces.

There has been no specific research to date on the effects on the hoof and soundness as a result of the increased use  of equestrian surfaces but this report does take a closer look at the phases of hoof interaction when working on equestrian surfaces.

Hoof interaction – a breakdown of the phases:

The interaction can be broken down into a number of phases, defined as follows
  • Pre-impact: immediately before the hoof hits the ground
  • Primary impact:  high deceleration and low forces when the hoof impacts the surface and rapidly decelerates to zero velocity (Thomason and Peterson 2008)
  • Secondary Impact:  when the mass of the horse collides with the leg that is currently on the ground (Barrey et al 1991, Ruina et al 2005)
  • Support:  this overlaps with the secondary impact and extends through to heel lift and includes the transition from braking to propulsion (Hobbs & Clayton 2013)
  • Rollover (or breakover): when the hoof lifts at the heel and rolls from the ground latterly, and during propulsion (Reiser et al 2000, Thomason and Peterson 2008)
  • Post breakover:  this is the phase when the hoof and digit flex rapidly and form the start of the swing phase (Thomason and Peterson 2008)

What can make a difference?

Taking the time to select the equine surface which best suits your needs can help prevent concussion and strain injury.  In addition, the White Paper highlights a few points to bear in mind when installing a surface:
  • Shoes can have an effect when using an equestrian arena. There are a variety of shoes that can enhance performance on equine surfaces.
  • If  you can find out the ‘shear’ properties before you choose your equine surface this can help to prevent ‘kick back’
  • Caulks or removable studs can be used to reduce the amount of ‘slide’ when the hoof first touches down.
The bottom line is that the equine surface must be able to support the load and use being applied to it.

Consult the equestrian surface experts

Martin Collins Enterprises is the UK's top equestrian surface manufacturer and installer, with a growing international operation and prides itself on setting the winning standard in equine surfaces. 

Founded by Martin Collins over 30 years ago, its equestrian origins remain at the heart of the business today. The company provides a full construction service and undertakes projects which range from the single horse owner to large commercial projects, both racing and equestrian.

The Martin Collins Group has a proven track record for quality, durability & performance and an after sales service that is second to none.  It continues to invest in sophisticated testing equipment, scientific research and product development to provide the best level of support to the equine industry.  Click here to see its full range of equestrian surfaces or contact the team now to find out more.

Click here to read other articles in the same series.
Click here to download the full FEI report.
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