Research: Hard Footing Increases Risk Of Muculoskeletal Injury In Harness Horses by Paulick Report Staff|04.09.2023|10:14am A study completed by researchers from the Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort in Maisons-Alfort and the INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research) has found an association between horses training on hard footing and musculoskeletal injuries. The study used 12 healthy trotting horses and followed them through four months of race training. The horses were paired depending on size and weight; one horse trained on a track with hard footing and the other trained on a softer surface. All of the horses had a battery of diagnostic imaging done before the study and at two and four months into the training. These modalities included radiographs, ultrasounds, nuclear scintigraphy, and MRI. In total, 46 lesions were identified and considered clinically relevant, meaning they could cause lameness or poor performance. Eighteen of the lesions were classified as moderate to severe. Fifteen of the 18 moderate to severe lesions were in horses training over the harder track surface. The scientists also found lesions on the superficial digital flexor tendons on three of the six horses trained on the harder surface; no SDFT lesions were found on the horses training on the soft track. Horses training on the harder track also had more fetlock injuries. The scientists concluded that the firmness of the track surface is a risk factor for harness horses in training. Working on a hard surface can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. Read more at EQUUS magazine.