Dynamic testing of horseshoe designs at impact on synthetic and dirt Thoroughbred racetrack materials

C. A. Mahaffey, M. L. Peterson, J. J. Thomason, C. W. McIlwraith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Reasons for performing study: Different horseshoe designs have been developed in an attempt to optimise footing for equine athletes. Horseshoe performance is assumed to be dependent on the surface and gait, but there are limited data on horseshoe performance on different surfaces, independent of gait variation. Objectives: To quantify the dynamic loading for 3 aluminium racing shoe designs on Thoroughbred racetrack surface materials, using a biomechanical surface tester. Study design: A flat racing plate, a serrated V-Grip and a shoe with a 6 mm toe grab and 10 mm heel calks were tested on synthetic and dirt surfaces under typical operating conditions of temperature and moisture content for the respective material samples. Methods: Samples were tested under laboratory conditions, replicating a track surface by compacting material into a latex-lined mould surrounded by silica sand for representative boundary conditions. Peak loading and loading rates were measured vertically and horizontally (craniocaudal), simulating aspects of primary and secondary impacts of the hoof in a galloping horse. Results: Maximum vertical and shear loads and loading rates were not significantly different between shoe types, with the exception of a reduced craniocaudal loading rate for the V-Grip shoe on the synthetic surface. All other statistical significance was related to the surface material. Conclusions: These 3 different Thoroughbred racing shoes do not have a significant impact on loading and loading rate, with the exception of the V-Grip shoe on a synthetic surface. Although the V-Grip may reduce craniocaudal peak load rates in a synthetic material with relatively high wax and/or low oil content, the reduction in load rate is less than the difference found between materials. This study indicates that shoeing has little effect, and that a track's surface material and its preparation have a significant effect on the dynamic loading during the impact phase of the stance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-102
Number of pages6
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 EVJ Ltd.


  • Dynamic loading
  • Equine sports
  • Horse
  • Shoeing
  • Surface material

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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