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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • locomotion;
  • gait analysis;
  • intralimb coordination

Summary

To study the influence of training on the equine locomotor apparatus, the kinematics of 24 almost two-and-a-half-year-old Dutch Warmbloods were recorded on a treadmill at the trot (4 m/s) using a modified CODA-3 apparatus before and after a period of 70 days. In that period, 12 horses of the group were trained for dressage and jumping, while the other 12 were sent to pasture day and night. After 70 days, the hindlimb of the trained horses showed a decreased stance duration, less limb flexion and it reached its maximal protraction earlier in the stride. The stride duration remained the same in the trained horses, while the protraction and retraction range of the forelimb decreased in this group. In the pastured group, however, the horses increased their total range of forelimb movement in the sagittal plane and had a longer swing and stride duration. These results indicate that the definition of ‘training’ is rather relative. The response in the trained group was in agreement with the observation that the majority of horses from this group were trotting with impulsion ‘on the bit’. The pastured group was trotting in a more relaxed way with a longer stride duration and thus a lower stride frequency. In conclusion, this study proved that horses show different responses in their locomotor apparatus depending on the ‘training’ regime received. Using modern gait analysis equipment these differences could be evaluated objectively.