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To evaluate the ability of novel legwear designed to limit extension of the metacarpophalangeal joint (MCPJ) to redirect loading forces from the flexor apparatus during walk, trot, and canter on a treadmill and during unrestrained and restrained activity in a stall.


6 adult horses without musculoskeletal disease.


Legwear-derived force data were recorded under 4 conditions: inactive state (unlimited legwear extension) and 3 active (restrictive) states (mild, 30° extension; moderate, 20° extension; or maximum, 10° extension). Associations between peak legwear loads and torques among legwear states and treadmill gaits and stall activities were assessed. The hair coat and skin of the forelimbs were examined for any legwear-induced adverse effects after testing.


During the treadmill exercises, moderate restriction of legwear extension resulted in significantly higher peak load and torque than mild restriction, and faster speeds (canter vs walk or trot and trot vs walk) yielded significantly higher peak load and torque. During in-stall activity, maximum restriction of legwear extension yielded significantly higher peak load and torque than moderate restriction. Unrestrained in-stall activity resulted in significantly higher peak load and torque than restrained activity. The legwear caused minimal adverse effects on the hair coat and skin of the forelimbs.


Findings suggested that the legwear variably reduced peak loads on the flexor apparatus. Extension of the MCPJ may be incrementally adjusted through the legwear such that return to activity may be controlled, and controlled return to activity is crucial for rehabilitating flexor apparatus injuries.

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research