Capturing and Analyzing Limb Injuries in Racehorses

Scientists hope an estimation of the forces applied to the ligaments and tendons can be used to test the soft-tissue structures’ strain when the limb is faced with variable footing and ground reaction forces.
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Scientists hope an estimation of the forces applied to the ligaments and tendons can be used to test the soft-tissue structures' strain when the limb is faced with variable footing and ground reaction forces. | Photo: iStock

Massey University researchers are investigating limb injuries in racehorses by capturing the limbs’ 3D movement on camera and modeling it on computers.

Massey Equine Group’s Bob Colborne, BSc, MHK, PhD, and PhD student Alienor Bardin, a mechanical engineer, have funding from The New Zealand Equine Trust to tackle this problem.

“The various equestrian industries in New Zealand make up about 2% of the country’s (gross domestic product), and about a third of racehorses that start training and racing are retired and lost due to injury,” Colborne said. “About three-quarters of these are musculoskeletal injuries. These injuries, therefore, cause a fair amount of wastage, both in terms of the welfare impact on the horse and secondly, to the income potential. The purpose of our work is to assess the effects of variable ground surfaces on the forces applied to the limb during gait

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