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Effect of forelimb lameness on hoof kinematics of horses at a walk

Valerie J. MoormanGail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center, Departments of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Raoul F. Reiser IIHealth and Exercise Science, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Michael L. PetersonDepartment of Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469.

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C. Wayne McIlwraithGail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center, Departments of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Chris E. KawcakGail Holmes Equine Orthopaedic Research Center, Departments of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

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Abstract

Objective—To determine kinematic changes to the hoof of horses at a walk after induction of unilateral, weight-bearing forelimb lameness and to determine whether hoof kinematics return to prelameness (baseline) values after perineural anesthesia.

Animals—6 clinically normal Quarter Horses.

Procedures—For each horse, a sole-pressure model was used to induce 3 grades of lameness in the right forelimb, after which perineural anesthesia was administered to eliminate lameness. Optical kinematics were obtained for both forelimbs with the horse walking before (baseline) and after induction of each grade of lameness and after perineural anesthesia. Linear acceleration profiles were used to identify hoof events, and each stride was divided into hoof-contact, break-over, initial-swing, terminal-swing, and total-swing segments. Kinematic variables were compared within and between limbs for each segment by use of mixed repeated-measures ANOVA.

Results—During the hoof-contact and terminal-swing segments, the hoof of the left (nonlame) forelimb had greater sagittal-plane orientation than did the hoof of the right (lame) forelimb. For the lame limb following lameness induction, the break-over duration and maximum cranial acceleration were increased from baseline. After perineural anesthesia, break-over duration for the lame limb returned to a value similar to that at baseline, and orientation of the hoof during the terminal-swing segment did not differ between the lame and nonlame limbs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Subclinical unilateral forelimb lameness resulted in significant alterations to hoof kinematics in horses that are walking, and the use of hoof kinematics may be beneficial for the detection of subclinical lameness in horses.

Abstract

Objective—To determine kinematic changes to the hoof of horses at a walk after induction of unilateral, weight-bearing forelimb lameness and to determine whether hoof kinematics return to prelameness (baseline) values after perineural anesthesia.

Animals—6 clinically normal Quarter Horses.

Procedures—For each horse, a sole-pressure model was used to induce 3 grades of lameness in the right forelimb, after which perineural anesthesia was administered to eliminate lameness. Optical kinematics were obtained for both forelimbs with the horse walking before (baseline) and after induction of each grade of lameness and after perineural anesthesia. Linear acceleration profiles were used to identify hoof events, and each stride was divided into hoof-contact, break-over, initial-swing, terminal-swing, and total-swing segments. Kinematic variables were compared within and between limbs for each segment by use of mixed repeated-measures ANOVA.

Results—During the hoof-contact and terminal-swing segments, the hoof of the left (nonlame) forelimb had greater sagittal-plane orientation than did the hoof of the right (lame) forelimb. For the lame limb following lameness induction, the break-over duration and maximum cranial acceleration were increased from baseline. After perineural anesthesia, break-over duration for the lame limb returned to a value similar to that at baseline, and orientation of the hoof during the terminal-swing segment did not differ between the lame and nonlame limbs.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Subclinical unilateral forelimb lameness resulted in significant alterations to hoof kinematics in horses that are walking, and the use of hoof kinematics may be beneficial for the detection of subclinical lameness in horses.

Contributor Notes

Supported by the United States Equestrian Federation Equine Health Research Fund.

The authors thank Erin Contino, Dora Ferris, and Jennifer Suddreth for technical assistance and Francisco Olea-Popelka for assistance with statistical analysis.

Address correspondence to Dr. Kawcak (christopher.kawcak@colostate.edu).