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Abstract

Objective—To determine the effects of exercise on biomechanical properties of the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT) in foals.

Animals—43 Dutch Warmblood foals.

Procedure—From 1 week until 5 months of age, 14 foals were housed in stalls and not exercised, 14 foals were housed in stalls and exercised daily, and 15 foals were maintained at pasture. Eight foals in each group were euthanatized at 5 months, and remaining foals were housed together in a stall and paddock until euthanatized at 11 months. After euthanasia, SDFT were isolated and fit in a material testing system. Mean cross-sectional area (CSA) was measured and traction forces recorded. Normalized force at rupture (forcerup), normalized force at 4% strain, strain at rupture, stress at 4% strain (stress4%strain), and stress at rupture were compared among and within groups.

Results—At 5 months, mean CSA and normalized forcerup were significantly greater and stress4%strain significantly less in the pastured group, compared with the other groups. At 11 months, CSA and normalized forcerup were not significantly different among groups, because forcerup increased significantly from 5 to 11 months in the nonexercised group and decreased significantly in the pastured group.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Exercise significantly affected the biomechanical properties of the SDFT in foals. Evenly distributed moderate- and low-intensity exercise at a young age may be more effective for development of strong, flexible tendons in horses than single episodes of high-intensity exercise superimposed on stall rest. This effect may impact later susceptibility to SDFT injury. (Am J Vet Res 2001;62:1859–1864)

Full access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

SUMMARY

In literature, it has been hypothesized that the concussion at impact in the equine forelimb is larger than that in the hind limb, and therefore, eventually more clinical lameness may develop in the distal portion of the forelimbs. As the functional anatomy of the distal forelimb and hind limb segments is similar, a study was undertaken to compare the kinematics of hoof and fetlock in the forelimbs and hind limbs. For this purpose, the trot of 24 clinically normal (sound) horses on a treadmill (4 m/s) was recorded, using modern gait analysis equipment.

It appeared that vertical hoof velocity at impact and the resulting vertical hoof acceleration were higher in the forelimb than in the hind limb. In contrast, horizontal hoof velocity at impact and the resulting horizontal acceleration were higher in the hind limb. Just after impact, the fetlock was more rapidly extended in the forelimb than the hind limb. The peak maximal and minimal accelerations of that joint also were significantly (P < 0.05) higher in the forelimb than in the hind limb.

Results of this study indicate that, at the beginning of the stance phase, the distal portion of the forelimb is subjected to more kinematic stress than the distal portion of the hind limb. The higher angular velocity of the fetlock can be interpreted as more rapid loading of this joint, whereas the higher peak accelerations represent the higher oscillatory changes in fetlock movement. It is known from literature that repetitive impulsive joint loading and rapid oscillations in joint movement, even within physiologic limits, contribute to development of osteoarthrosis. Therefore, the differences between distal forelimb and hind limb kinematics found in this study may be related to the generally known higher incidence of chronic lameness in the forelimbs.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research

Abstract

Objective

To determine variations in biochemical characteristics of equine articular cartilage in relation to age and the degree of predisposition for osteochondral disease at a specific site.

Sample Population

Articular cartilage specimens from 53 horses 4 to 30 years old.

Procedure

Healthy specimens were obtained from 2 locations on the proximal articular surface of the first phalanx that had different disease prevalences (site 1 at the mediodorsal margin and site 2 at the center of the medial cavity). Water, total collagen, and hydroxylysine contents and enzymatic (hydroxylysylpyridinoline [HP]) and nonenzymatic (pentosidine) crosslinking were determined at both sites. Differences between sites were analyzed by ANOVA (factors, site, and age), and age correlation was tested by Pearson’s product-moment correlation analysis. Significance was set at P < 0.01.

Results

Correlation with age was not found for water, collagen, hydroxylysine contents, and enzymatic crosslinking. Nonenzymatic crosslinking was higher in older horses and was linearly related to age (r = 0.94). Water and collagen contents and HP and pentosidine crosslinks were significantly higher at site 1. Hydroxylysine content was significantly lower at site 1.

Conclusions

Except for nonenzymatic glycation, the composition of articular cartilage collagen does not change significantly in adult horses. A significant topographic variation exists in biochemical characteristics of the articular cartilage collagen network in equine metacarpophalangeal joints. These differences may influence local biomechanical properties and, hence, susceptibility to osteochondral disease, as will greater pentosidine crosslinks in older horses that are likely to cause stiffer and more brittle cartilage. (Am J Vet Res 1999;60:341-345)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research