Reason for performing study: Weight boots are commonly used for Icelandic horses to increase the height of the flight arc of the forelimbs in toelt.
Objective: To show the influence of weights and toelting speed on the height of the swing phase.
Materials and methods: Eight Icelandic horses (mean ± s.d. 12 ± 3 years old, 369 ± 46 kg) were used. Reflecting makers were placed on the dorsal side of each hoof. The motion was collected with a kinematic system (10 cameras, 120 Hz sample rate, 1.3 Mpixels resolution). The horses were ridden in toelt by 2 experienced riders on a treadmill at 2 different speeds (2.96 m/s ± 0.30 and 4.10 m/s ± 0.32). At each speed the horses were measured wearing no boots, light boots (170 g) and heavy boots (280 g) on both fore hooves. The measurement sequence was varied between horses. A Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was carried out to test for normal distribution of data and ANOVA for repeated measurements were used to compare differences (P<0.05).
Results: The weight as well as the speed of toelt had a significant influence on the height of the flight arc. At the lower speed, the mean ± s.d. height was 163 ± 55 mm, whereas at the higher speed the mean height was 228 ± 60 mm. The heavy weights increased the mean height at the lower speed from 152 ± 38 to 169 ± 48 mm and at the higher speed from 214 ± 60 to 245 ± 60 mm.
Conclusions: This investigation shows that Icelandic horses can be expected to show a better toelt in competitions with weights, and ridden at a higher speed. For muscle adaptation to occur, weights should therefore be used during competitions and training.