J.D. Wheat Veterinary Orthopedic Research Laboratory

Photo: Jake Setterbo, PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering is designing and building a horse track testing device for a study that measures the force, acceleration, and velocity of impact on dirt horse racetracks compared to synthetic horse racetracks.
Jake Setterbo, PhD candidate in Biomedical Engineering is designing and building a horse track testing device for a study that measures the force, acceleration, and velocity of impact on dirt horse racetracks compared to synthetic horse racetracks.

"Track-in-a-Box" - for study of race surfaces for racehorse injury prevention

Racetrack surfaces have long been implicated for causing musculoskeletal injuries to racehorses, but epidemiologic studies of the effect of race surfaces on injuries have been inconclusive because the effects of the multiple confounding risk factors are difficult to separate from the race surface effect. The racehorse industry has recognized the potential for injury reduction through racetrack surface changes, as demonstrated by the replacement of dirt surfaces with synthetic materials at several race courses in the US over the last 3 years.  However, the manufacture and selection of synthetic surface materials have largely been based on empirical evidence and marketing factors; there is a lack of information regarding the scientific properties of existing racetracks.  Our goal is to develop a laboratory procedure to assess the scientific properties of racetrack surfaces using our track-testing device.  This laboratory method will allow for controlled studies which will minimize the confounding factors which are unavoidable when testing at racetracks.  Ultimately, surface properties from our laboratory testing will be incorporated into our equine computer model in order to investigate the optimal surface properties for reducing injury to racehorses.


Photo: Track in a box

Track-testing device and box underneath which holds the surface material.  Layers of surface material on the right.

Contacts

Susan M. Stover, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACVS  
Professor
smstover@ucdavis.edu

Jacob Setterbo, PhD  
jjsetterbo@ucdavis.edu

View more information at the UCDavis Sports Biomechanics Laboratory website.

Setterbo JJ, Garcia TC, Campbell IP, Reese JL, Wade JM, Kim SY, Hubbard M, Stover SM. Hoof accelerations and ground reaction forces of Thoroughbred racehorses measured on dirt, synthetic, and turf track surfaces. Am J Vet Res 2009;accepted for publication.

Setterbo JJ, Garcia TC, Campbell IP, Kim SY, Hubbard M, Stover SM. Forelimb kinematics of galloping Thoroughbred racehorses measured on dirt, synthetic, and turf track surfaces. The Engineering of Sport 7 2008;437-446.