Hitting the ground running: Evaluating an integrated racehorse limb and race surface computational model

Jennifer E. Symons, David A. Hawkins, David P Fyhrie, Shrinivasa K. Upadhyaya, Susan M Stover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Race surface mechanics contribute to musculoskeletal injury in racehorses. These mechanics affect ground reaction forces applied to the hoof, and thus limb motions during stance that can contribute to musculoskeletal pathologies. Race surface design has been largely empirical within the industry, with little uniform consensus for injury prevention and performance. Furthermore, race surface installations are too expensive to install experimentally. The objective of this research was to develop and evaluate an integrated racehorse limb and race surface computational model. Combined forward/inverse dynamic simulations of distal leading forelimb motions of a galloping horse during stance were compared to 2D distal leading forelimb kinematics of actual galloping racehorses on race surfaces with measured mechanics. Model predicted angular and translational kinematic profiles had similar qualitative shapes as experimental data, with comparable peak magnitudes. Model predictions of peak metacarpophalangeal position and timing were within 11° and 8 ms of mean experimental data. The model overestimated peak fetlock angular velocity on consolidated surfaces (up to 1390 °/s), and hoof displacements (up to 4 cm) during stance. The model's ability to produce comparable qualitative kinematic profiles to experimental data and biologically reasonable fetlock and hoof motions support the future use of this model to explore the effect of race surface parameters on increasing or decreasing distal limb motions and provide supportive evidence for potential mechanisms of injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1711-1717
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biomechanics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jun 14 2016


  • Dirt
  • Dynamics
  • Horse
  • Modeling
  • Race surface
  • Synthetic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation
  • Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering


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