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J Biomech. 2002 May;35(5):563-71.

Fetlock joint kinematics differ with age in Thoroughbred [was thoroughbred] racehorses.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Wake Forest University, P.O. Box 7325, Winston-Salem, NC 27109, USA.


Fetlock joint kinematics during galloping in 2-, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old Thoroughbreds in race training were quantified to determine if differences due to age could account for the observation that 2-year old Thoroughbred racehorses incur a high number of injuries to the bones and soft tissues in the distal forelimbs during training and at the outset of racing. Twelve Thoroughbred racehorses were videotaped in the sagittal plane at 250 frames/s during their daily galloping workout on a 7/8 mile sand-surface training track. Four galloping strides were recorded for each horse and subsequently digitized to determine fetlock joint angles of the leading forelimb during the limb support period of a stride. Four kinematic variables were measured from each stride's angular profile: angle of fetlock joint dorsi-flexion at mid-stance, negative angular velocity, positive angular velocity and time from hoof impact to mid-stance phase of limb support. The 2-year old Thoroughbreds had significantly quicker rates of dorsi-flexion of their fetlock joints than 3- (p=0.01), 4- (p=0.01), and 5-year old (p<0.01) Thoroughbreds following impact of the leading forelimb during moderate galloping (avg. 14 m/s). Higher rates of dorsi-flexion in young Thoroughbreds may reflect immaturity (lack of stiffness) of the suspensory apparatus tissues.

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