Evaluate the short-term effects of acupuncture on the dynamic manifestations of axial stiffness in steeplechase racehorses.
12 steeplechase racehorses presenting signs of axial stiffness during training.
Horses were randomly assigned to either an acupuncture treatment by an experienced certified acupuncturist (n = 6) or no treatment as negative controls (6). The horses’ locomotion was evaluated during training before treatment (D0) and 7 (D7) and 14 (D14) days after by their rider and trainer through a questionnaire. Additionally, the improvement of their dorsal flexibility 2 days after treatment was evaluated subjectively at the trot, free jumping at the canter was evaluated by expert clinicians, and free jumping at the trot was evaluated objectively via inertial measurement units.
Significantly more horses were improved on D7 and D14 in the acupuncture group (6/6) compared with the control group (1/5; P =.01) according to the scores set by the trainer and riders. Subjective evaluation of the dorsal flexibility also revealed a significant improvement (P = .04) for horses receiving the acupuncture treatment (median improvement score, 0.50 [reference range, 0.5 to 0.9]) compared with control horses (–0.25 [reference range, –0.5 to 0]).
Acupuncture may be an interesting nondoping strategy to improve clinical signs of axial stiffness and performance on steeplechase racehorses.
To measure the trunk vertical displacement (VD) in horses trotting on a water treadmill (WT) at different water depths (WDs) and speeds.
6 sound Standardbred horses (median age 12 years [IQR:10.5-12]).
The horses were trotted on a WT at 2 speeds (3.5 m/s and 5 m/s) and during 4 conditions: dry treadmill (DT), WD at mid-cannon (WD-CAN), mid-radius (WD-RAD), and shoulder (WD-SHOUL). The dorsoventral movement was obtained with accelerometers placed over the withers, thoracolumbar junction (T18), tuber sacrale (TS), and sacrum (S5). The VD was defined with the median value of the upward (Up) and downward (Down) amplitudes of the vertical excursion during each stride. The difference of VD at each sensor location was compared between the DT and the 3 WDs, and between the 2 trotting speeds for the same condition.
The VD amplitudes were significantly increased at any sensor location when trotting in water at WD-CAN and WD-RAD compared to DT (P < .05 for all), with the highest increase at WD-RAD and T18. When the speed increased from 3.5 to 5 m/s, the VD amplitudes were significantly decreased at T18 at each water level (P = .03), and at WD-RAD only for the withers and TS (P = .03).
Both water depth and speed affect the trunk VD in horses at trot on a WT with an opposite effect. The VD increases when increasing the WD up to mid-radius, while the VD decreases when increasing the trotting speed, with the main effects observed at the thoracolumbar junction.