Asymmetrical Movement Common In Young Standardbreds

Scientists from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences found asymmetrical movement in most of the Standardbred horses used in a study.

The group recruited the help of 12 Standardbred trainers across Norway and Sweden. They used wireless inertial sensors to detect uneven movement at the trot on 103 horses. All the horses had been broke to harness and were beginning race training; each was considered fit to train by their trainers.

Drs. Anne Kallerud, Cathrine Fjordbakk, Eli Hendrickson, Emma Persson‐Sjodin, Marie Hammarberg,  Marie Rhodin and Elin Hernlund chose to study this group, which had an average age of 18 months, to reduce the chances of the presence of training-related injuries. All horses received a physical exam before the study; measurements were taken to see if any associations could be found with the uneven movement that could be detected.

Of the 103 horses, 77 were seen in-hand and on the track; 24 were assessed in-hand only and two were assessed only on the track. The scientists used thresholds established for other breeds to determine asymmetry. They determined that 94 of horses (93 percent) showed front and/or hind limb asymmetry in the in-hand reviews. In the track trials, 74 horses (94 percent) showed asymmetry. Though most of the asymmetry was mild, one in five horses switched the asymmetrical side for one or more parameters between in-hand and on-track trials.

The study team explored the prevalence of asymmetry, but not its underlying causes. It is unclear if the asymmetrical movement increases, decreases or stabilizes with age and training. They suggest that future studies look at the changes in asymmetry over time, and explore any associations between the asymmetrical movement and the development of clinical lameness.

Read the study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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