Pressure boots are applied to hind limbs of showjumping horses with the intent to enhance jumping form. Manufacturers claim acupressure points enhance proprioception of hind limbs. With this increased awareness, horses are expected to retract their hind limbs to clear jump rails. This research aimed to investigate a more direct, mechanical effect of pressure boots on hind limb biomechanics. Cadaveric hind limbs (n
= 6) were mechanically loaded in axial compression (3 cycles at 0.25 Hz, displacement control ~3300 N) with (2 trials) and without (2 trials) a pressure boot applied. During mechanical loading, fetlock angle was measured using bone fixed pins with retroreflective markers (30 Hz). Changes in limb load and fetlock angle between unloaded and loaded states, as well as average fetlock joint stiffness, were compared between trials with and without the pressure boot via ANOVA. Differences in measured loads between trials with and without the boot were observed in both unloaded (Δ = 6 N, p
= 0.05) and loaded states (Δ = 25 N, p
= 0.002). Trials with the boot had greater average fetlock stiffness (Δ = 3 N/degree, p
= 0.001). Differences in loads with and without boots may increase with greater fetlock angles when cantering and jumping. These mechanical effects of pressure boots may contribute to greater tensile loading of palmar tendons and ligaments, and likelihood of musculoskeletal injury that can be related to animal welfare issues.
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