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Vet J. 2004 Nov;168(3):304-11.

Vertical ground reaction force-time histories of sound Warmblood horses trotting on a treadmill.

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  • 1Equine Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstrasse 260, CH-8057 Zurich, Switzerland.


The objective of this study was to establish representative treadmill ground reaction force (GRF) and interlimb co-ordination time data of clinically sound horses at the trot. It was anticipated that these normative standards would provide a reference data base against which lame horses could be compared. GRF-time histories were collected from 30 Warmblood riding horses with easy, wide natural gaits. Data were recorded of all four limbs simultaneously by the use of an instrumented treadmill. A total of 912 stride cycles per limb were analysed for force, time and spatial parameters and were averaged. The shape and amplitude of the treadmill force curves were very similar to force traces recorded with a stationary force plate. The horses showed a high degree of symmetry in all investigated parameters (95% reference interval of left-right asymmetry +/-1.8-6.8%). No significant differences were found between left and right mean values. Intra-individual coefficients of variance of the various parameters did not exceed 2.7%. Inter-individual coefficients of variance were 2.5-3.5 times larger than the respective intra-individual coefficients. An instrumented treadmill provides a number of decisive advantages, such as time-efficient data acquisition of all four feet simultaneously over successive strides, or the high regularity of the horse's gait pattern at controlled velocities, which allow the clinical assessment of locomotor performance of horses.

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