Kinematic differences between the distal portions of the forelimbs and hind limbs of horses at the trot

Willem Back From the Departments of General and Large Animal Surgery (Back, Barneveld) and Veterinary Anatomy (Schamhardt, Hartman), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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Henk C. Schamhardt From the Departments of General and Large Animal Surgery (Back, Barneveld) and Veterinary Anatomy (Schamhardt, Hartman), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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Wrister Hartman From the Departments of General and Large Animal Surgery (Back, Barneveld) and Veterinary Anatomy (Schamhardt, Hartman), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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Albert Barneveld From the Departments of General and Large Animal Surgery (Back, Barneveld) and Veterinary Anatomy (Schamhardt, Hartman), Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 12, NL-3584 CM, Utrecht, The Netherlands.

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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.

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.

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