Effects of racetrack surface and nail placement on movement between heels of the hoof and horseshoes of racehorses

Vanessa E. Dahl Animal Biology Graduate Group, Department of Animal Biology, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

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Peta L. Hitchens J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

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Susan M. Stover J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

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Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the effects of racetrack surface and shoe characteristics on formation of wear grooves in the horseshoes of racehorses.

SAMPLES 1,121 horseshoes from 242 Thoroughbred racehorses collected during routine horseshoeing procedures at 4 racetracks with dirt or synthetic surfaces.

PROCEDURES Data for 1,014 horseshoes from 233 racehorses were analyzed. Horseshoes were photographed, and length and width of grooves formed at the heels of the solar surface of horseshoes were measured on the photographs. Effects of racetrack, racetrack surface, and shoe characteristics (eg, shoe size, clips, and nails) on length and width of grooves were assessed by use of a mixed-model anova.

RESULTS Length and width of wear grooves differed significantly on the basis of racetrack, nail placement, and limb side (left vs right). Differences in groove dimensions between types of racetrack surface (dirt vs synthetic) were less apparent than differences among racetracks.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Measurements of the length and width of wear grooves in the horseshoes of racehorses may be useful for understanding some aspects of hoof interactions with various racetrack surfaces. Interpretation of differences in wear grooves for various racetrack surfaces will likely require quantitation of the mechanical behavior of the surfaces.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE To determine the effects of racetrack surface and shoe characteristics on formation of wear grooves in the horseshoes of racehorses.

SAMPLES 1,121 horseshoes from 242 Thoroughbred racehorses collected during routine horseshoeing procedures at 4 racetracks with dirt or synthetic surfaces.

PROCEDURES Data for 1,014 horseshoes from 233 racehorses were analyzed. Horseshoes were photographed, and length and width of grooves formed at the heels of the solar surface of horseshoes were measured on the photographs. Effects of racetrack, racetrack surface, and shoe characteristics (eg, shoe size, clips, and nails) on length and width of grooves were assessed by use of a mixed-model anova.

RESULTS Length and width of wear grooves differed significantly on the basis of racetrack, nail placement, and limb side (left vs right). Differences in groove dimensions between types of racetrack surface (dirt vs synthetic) were less apparent than differences among racetracks.

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Measurements of the length and width of wear grooves in the horseshoes of racehorses may be useful for understanding some aspects of hoof interactions with various racetrack surfaces. Interpretation of differences in wear grooves for various racetrack surfaces will likely require quantitation of the mechanical behavior of the surfaces.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Hitchens’ present address is Equine Centre, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, University of Melbourne, Werribee 3030, VIC, Australia.

Address correspondence to Dr. Stover (smstover@ucdavis.edu).
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