Straight Lines Vs. Circles: Training Patterns, Gaits Affect Hoof Pressure by Paulick Report Staff|09.03.2022|3:00pm Many horses are asked to work on a circular track during their training, whether under saddle or on the lunge line. Though it is commonly accepted that working on the same track repeatedly puts additional strain on tendons, ligaments and hooves, a study from Michigan State University has shown that the gait in which a horse is traveling also affects these structures. Pressure-mapping sensors were placed in the front shoes of nine horses to measure how much force is applied and over what area the force is applied, reports EQUUS magazine. A computer then deciphers how much pressure is applied to the hooves. The scientists led each horse in a straight line at the walk and trot, and worked them in a round pen on a 32- and 49-foot diameter circle. The sensors collected data for 10 steps three times, in each set of conditions. Horses were not asked to maintain a specific speed within each gait. The researchers found that no matter the exercise type, the walk produced more hoof pressure than the trot or canter. They also discovered that a larger portion of each horse's outside front limb was loaded when they circled at the canter. They concluded that gait impacted the hooves more than the exercise type (circles or straight lines). The team noted that the study did not determine torque or stress placed on joints higher up the leg, though it is reasonable to expect that forces placed on the hooves could impact the joints in the leg. The researchers concluded that the study reinforces the need for moderation when it comes to training horses both in straight lines and in circles, ensuring that a horse is not working too long in the same pattern. Read more at EQUUS magazine.