Inertial properties of equine limb segments


Sandra Nauwelaerts, Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center, Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences, D202 Veterinary Medical Center, East Lansing, MI 48824-1314, USA. T: +1 517 4327238; F: +1 517 3537733; E:


Quantifying the dynamics of limb movements requires knowledge of the mass distribution between and within limb segments. We measured segment masses, positions of segmental center of mass and moments of inertia of the fore and hind limb segments for 38 horses of different breeds and sizes. After disarticulation by dissections, segments were weighed and the position of the center of mass was determined by suspension. Moment of inertia was measured using a trifilar pendulum. We found that mass distribution does not change with size for animals under 600 kg and report ratios of segmental masses to total body mass. For all segments, the scaling relationship between segmental mass and moment of inertia was predicted equally well or better by a 5/3 power fit than by the more classic mass multiplied by segmental length squared fit. Average values taken from previous studies generally confirmed our data but scaling relationships often needed to be revised. We did not detect an effect of morphotype on segment inertial properties. Differences in segmental inertial properties between published studies may depend more on segmental segmentation techniques than on size or body type of the horse.