A Coupled Biomechanical-Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics Model for Horse Racing Tracks

Simon M. Harrison, R. Chris Whitton, Susan M. Stover, Jennifer E. Symons, Paul W. Cleary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Distal limb injuries are common in racing horses and track surface properties have been associated with injury risk. To better understand how track surfaces may contribute to equine limb injury, we developed the first 3D computational model of the equine hoof interacting with a racetrack and simulated interactions with model representations of 1) a dirt surface and 2) an all-weather synthetic track. First, a computational track model using the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) method with a Drucker-Prager (D-P) elastoplastic material model was developed. It was validated against analytical models and published data and then calibrated using results of a custom track testing device applied to the two racetrack types. Second, a sensitivity analysis was performed to determine which model parameters contribute most significantly to the mechanical response of the track under impact-type loading. Third, the SPH track model was coupled to a biomechanical model of the horse forelimb and applied to hoof-track impact for a horse galloping on each track surface. We found that 1) the SPH track model was well validated and it could be calibrated to accurately represent impact loading of racetrack surfaces at two angles of impact; 2) the amount of harrowing applied to the track had the largest effect on impact loading, followed by elastic modulus and cohesion; 3) the model is able to accurately simulate hoof-ground interaction and enables study of the relationship between track surface parameters and the loading on horses’ distal forelimbs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number766748
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - Feb 21 2022


  • biomechanics
  • elastoplastic
  • equine
  • gait
  • large deformation
  • quadruped

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Histology
  • Biomedical Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'A Coupled Biomechanical-Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics Model for Horse Racing Tracks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this