Shear ground reaction force variation among equine arena surfaces

C. M. Rohlf, T. C. Garcia, D. P. Fyhrie, S. S. le Jeune, M. L. Peterson, S. M. Stover

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Shear forces at the surface-hoof interface affect hoof slide, surface grip, forces transferred to the limb, and injury risk. However, the variation in shear forces among surfaces with different compositions have not been quantified. Shear ground reaction forces were measured on five dirt and seven synthetic arena surfaces. Cohesion/adhesion and angle of internal friction/coefficient of friction were calculated. Surface composition, surface temperature, cushion depth, and moisture content were also measured. The effects of surface material (dirt/synthetic) on shear properties were assessed using analysis of variance (ANOVA; P < 0.05). The relationships between surface composition or management properties and shear properties were analyzed using linear correlation. Shear properties were not different between dirt and synthetic surface categories; however, surface fiber content was correlated with adhesion and coefficient of friction. These correlations predict that more fiber will decrease soil adhesion (r = −0.75; P < 0.01) and increase the coefficient of friction (r = 0.81; P < 0.01). Furthermore, maximum shear force was significantly correlated with cushion depth (r = 0.61; P < 0.01) and moisture content (r = 0.57; P < 0.01), where shear force was greater on surfaces with thicker cushion layers or higher moisture content. The findings suggest that shear mechanical behavior is more dependent on surface composition than surface material categories (dirt/synthetic) and also indicate that arena owners can influence shear forces by adjusting either surface composition or management.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105930
JournalVeterinary Journal
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported in part by the Center for Equine Health with funds provided by the State of California satellite wagering fund and contributions by private donors. Preliminary results were presented as abstracts at the 46th Veterinary Orthopedic Society Conference, Breckenridge, 9–16 February 2019 and at the 67th American Association of Equine Practitioners Conference, Nashville, 4–8 December 2021. Special thanks to Kaleb Dempsey from the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory for determining soil compositional properties, to Dr. Shrinivasa Upadhyaya for assistance in designing the shear testing device, and to Chrisoula Skouritakis for generating figures.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Arena surface
  • Equine
  • Fiber content
  • Shear forces

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Veterinary (all)


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