Reasons for performing study: MP3 recorders are readily available, small, lightweight and low cost, providing the potential for logging analogue hoof mounted accelerometer signals for the characterisation of equine locomotion. These, however, require testing in practice.
Objectives: To test whether 1) multiple MP3 recorders can maintain synchronisation, giving the ability to synchronise independent recorders for the logging of multiple limbs simultaneously; and 2) features of a foot mounted accelerometer signal attributable to foot-on and foot-off can be accurately identified from horse foot mounted accelerometers logged directly into an MP3 recorder.
Methods: Three experiments were performed: 1) Maintenance of synchronisation was assessed by counting the number of samples recorded by each of 4 MP3 recorders while mounted on a trotting horse and over 2 consecutive 30 min periods in 8 recorders on a bench. 2) Foot-on and foot-off times obtained from manual transcription of MP3 logged data and directly logged accelerometer signal were compared. 3) MP3/accelerometer acquisition units were used to log accelerometer signals from racehorses during extended training sessions.
Results: Mean absolute error of synchronisation between MP3 recorders was 10 samples per million (compared to mean number of samples, range 1–32 samples per million). Error accumulation showed a linear correlation with time. Features attributable to foot on and foot off were equally identifiable from the MP3 recorded signal over a range of equine gaits.
Conclusions: Multiple MP3 recorders can be synchronised and used as a relatively cheap, robust, reliable and accurate logging system when combined with an accelerometer and external battery for the specific application of the measurement of stride timing variables across the range of equine gaits during field locomotion.
Potential relevance: Footfall timings can be used to identify intervals between the fore and hind contacts, the identification of diagonal advanced placement and to calculate stride timing variables (stance time, protraction time and stride time). These parameters are invaluable for the characterisation and assessment of equine locomotion.