OBJECTIVE: To compare hoof acceleration and ground reaction force (GRF) data among dirt, synthetic, and turf surfaces in Thoroughbred racehorses. ANIMALS: 3 healthy Thoroughbred racehorses. PROCEDURES: Forelimb hoof accelerations and GRFs were measured with an accelerometer and a dynamometric horseshoe during trot and canter on dirt, synthetic, and turf track surfaces at a racecourse. Maxima, minima, temporal components, and a measure of vibration were extracted from the data. Acceleration and GRF variables were compared statistically among surfaces. RESULTS: The synthetic surface often had the lowest peak accelerations, mean vibration, and peak GRFs. Peak acceleration during hoof landing was significantly smaller for the synthetic surface (mean + or - SE, 28.5g + or - 2.9g) than for the turf surface (42.9g + or - 3.8g). Hoof vibrations during hoof landing for the synthetic surface were < 70% of those for the dirt and turf surfaces. Peak GRF for the synthetic surface (11.5 + or - 0.4 N/kg) was 83% and 71% of those for the dirt (13.8 + or - 0.3 N/kg) and turf surfaces (16.1 + or - 0.7 N/kg), respectively. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: The relatively low hoof accelerations, vibrations, and peak GRFs associated with the synthetic surface evaluated in the present study indicated that synthetic surfaces have potential for injury reduction in Thoroughbred racehorses. However, because of the unique material properties and different nature of individual dirt, synthetic, and turf racetrack surfaces, extending the results of this study to encompass all track surfaces should be done with caution.
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