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Am J Vet Res. 2001 May;62(5):757-64.

Basic three-dimensional kinematics of the vertebral column of horses trotting on a treadmill.

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  • 1Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.



To determine movements of the vertebral column of horses during normal locomotion.


5 young Dutch Warmblood horses that did not have signs of back problems or lameness.


Kinematics of 8 vertebrae (T6, T10, T13, T17, L1, L3, L5, and S3) and both tuber coxae were determined, using bone-fixated markers. Measurements were recorded when the horses were trotting on a treadmill at a constant speed of 4.0 m/s.


Flexion-extension and axial rotation were characterized by a double sinusoidal pattern of motion during 1 stride cycle, whereas lateral bending was characterized by 1 peak and 1 trough. Ranges of motion for all vertebrae were: flexion-extension, 2.8 degrees to 4.9 degrees; lateral bending, 1.9 degrees to 3.6 degrees; axial rotation, 4.6 to 5.8 degrees, except for T10 and T13, where the amount of axial rotation decreased to 3.1 degrees and 3.3 degrees, respectively.


During locomotion, 3 types of rotations are evident in the thoracolumbar vertebrae. Regional differences are observed in the shape and timing of the rotations. These differences are related to actions of the limbs. The method described here for direct measurement of vertebral column motion provides insights into the complex movements of the thoracolumbar portion of the vertebral column in trotting horses. Information on normal kinematics is a prerequisite for a better understanding of abnormal function of the vertebral column in horses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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