Maintenance: What Can Equestrians Learn From Soccer Fields?  - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Maintenance: What Can Equestrians Learn From Soccer Fields? 

The most popular sport in the world, soccer, could have something to offer equestrian sport: feedback on footing. 

Many soccer fields and stadiums utilize a tool that looks similar to a lawnmower for objective feedback in five areas: shock absorption, hardness, energy resistance, rotational resistance, and vertical displacement. 

Soccer professionals seek to assess these areas in an effort to address injury prevention, ball performance, and promotion of surface uniformity. The HiPSter machine also may be of use to help assess the quality of riding surfaces, said Dr. Menke Steenbergen of Ipos Technology in the Netherlands. The information the machine offers may lead to better equine performance and fewer musculoskeletal injuries, reports The Horse

Dr. Steenbergen and her research team used the HiPSter on three arenas made of sand or synthetic fiber. One arena was heavily used, while the second was rarely used and rarely maintained. The third arena's usage and maintenance was in between the two.

The scientists measured each arena in seven to 13 locations and compared the results to standard footing measurements. They discovered that the lawnmower-like machine gave reliable results about shock absorption, hardness, vertical displacement, and energy resistance. 

Shock absorption could vary by 39 percent from one arena to the other and within the same arena, even on the newest and most-expensive footing. The HiPSter did have issues determining rotational resistance on arena footings as it is designed for grass soccer fields, the scientists noted. 

The team concluded that the machine could effectively evaluate riding arenas with minor modifications. As the machine is completely automatic, there is no chance for human interference. The ability to regularly measure riding surfaces using an automatic machine could improve surface quality and enhance equine safety.

Read more at The Horse

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