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Mechanical loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in horses during walking and trotting

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  • 1 Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia; and Veterinary Clinic and Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3030, Australia.
  • | 2 Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia.
  • | 3 Orthopaedic Research Center, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 4 Department of Mechanical Engineering, School of Engineering, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia.
  • | 5 Orthopaedic Research Center, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 6 Orthopaedic Research Center, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 7 Veterinary Clinic and Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, VIC 3030, Australia.

Abstract

Objective—To assess the net mechanical load on the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in horses during walking and trotting.

Animals—3 Quarter Horses and 1 Thoroughbred.

Procedures—Surface strains measured on the left third metacarpal bone of the Thorough-bred were used with a subject-specific model to calculate loading (axial compression, bending, and torsion) of the structure during walking and trotting. Forelimb kinematics and ground reaction forces measured in the 3 Quarter Horses were used with a musculoskeletal model of the distal portion of the forelimb to determine loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone.

Results—Both methods yielded consistent data regarding mechanical loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone. During walking and trotting, the distal end of the third metacarpal bone was loaded primarily in axial compression as a result of the sum of forces exerted on the metacarpal condyles by the proximal phalanx and proximal sesamoid bones.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of strain gauge and kinematic analyses indicated that the major structures of the distal portion of the forelimb in horses acted to load the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in axial compression throughout the stance phase of the stride.

Abstract

Objective—To assess the net mechanical load on the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in horses during walking and trotting.

Animals—3 Quarter Horses and 1 Thoroughbred.

Procedures—Surface strains measured on the left third metacarpal bone of the Thorough-bred were used with a subject-specific model to calculate loading (axial compression, bending, and torsion) of the structure during walking and trotting. Forelimb kinematics and ground reaction forces measured in the 3 Quarter Horses were used with a musculoskeletal model of the distal portion of the forelimb to determine loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone.

Results—Both methods yielded consistent data regarding mechanical loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone. During walking and trotting, the distal end of the third metacarpal bone was loaded primarily in axial compression as a result of the sum of forces exerted on the metacarpal condyles by the proximal phalanx and proximal sesamoid bones.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of strain gauge and kinematic analyses indicated that the major structures of the distal portion of the forelimb in horses acted to load the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in axial compression throughout the stance phase of the stride.

Contributor Notes

Dr. Brown's present address is Department of Biomechanics and Performance Analysis, Australian Institute of Sport, Leverrier Crescent, Bruce, ACT 2617, Australia.

Supported by the University of Melbourne and the Colorado State University Orthopaedic Research Center through a donation from Robert and Beverly Lewis.

Address correspondence to Dr. Merritt (merritt@unimelb.edu.au).