A few weeks back, I spent an afternoon with noted equine researcher Hilary Clayton at the Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center.
As part of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, this is among the world’s leading biomechanics research centers and a place where impressive work is being done on the equine hoof. The 18,000 square foot facility is among fewer than a half dozen places in the world where in-depth three-dimensional force plate and motion analysis is done with horses.
Clayton has spent 6 years developing this research center and moved into the new $2.5 million facility 3 years ago. Its research includes a broad spectrum of studies, both theoretical and practical, including plenty of basic research that’s of special interest to farriers.
Her foot-related work has looked at hock injuries, hoof movement during different phases of the stride, the impact of shoes on breakover, use of wedge pads, effects of multiple lameness on equine gaits, gait changes in horses with fetlock injuries, lameness, bone spavin, traumatic arthritis, effects of tarsal joint synovitis on locomotion and the impact of trotting velocity on limb kinetics.
Motion Analysis Is Key
During my visit, Clayton and David Mullineaux demonstrated the unique computerized motion analysis system that is used to evaluate horses under practical working and competition situations. Before coming to the center from Sheffield Hallam University in England, Mullineaux spent 8 years doing research in biomechanics and statistical analysis in human sports medicine. As a result, he’s adopting many…