Asymmetry In Horses: Not Always Related To Lameness

A recent study is trying to find out if asymmetry is typical in horses or if owners are failing to pick up on subtle signs of lameness, reports HorseTalk.

The study, conducted in Sweden, found movement imbalances in 222 Warmblood horses that were trotted in a straight line, though their owners felt that they were sound. Researchers discovered that asymmetry was actually more common than symmetry in horses, with 72.5 of horses studied having identified asymmetries based on measurements taken by body-mounted technology.

While it is not known to what extent these asymmetries relate to pain or mechanical abnormalities, the team noted that many studies have found motion asymmetries in a large proportion of the horses used in the studies. This is what drove the team to investigate the presence of motion asymmetries.

The researchers set out to investigate the presence of motion asymmetries in 222 riding horses and identify the side, degree and type of forelimb and hind limb asymmetries both on a straight line and on the lunge line.

The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences used body-mounted accelerometers on study horses. Each horse was considered sound by their owners at the time of the study. Asymmetry was perceived in 161 horses for at least one variable (straight line or lunging). Of the 161 asymmetric horses, 57 were mares, 3 were stallions and 101 were geldings, aged 3 to 25 years. The median age was 11 years old.

The researchers described the asymmetric number as remarkably high in light of the fact that all owners judged their animals as sound. Because of this, the question was raised as to if they asymmetries are just a biological variation and not caused by pain or pathology.

While most asymmetries are caused by difference in loading between limbs, it is not clear how many asymmetries are related to pain. It is theorized that some owners and riders don't notice asymmetries because the horse is ridden on a soft surface, which can mask asymmetry,. Riding on a hard surface can exacerbate pain that causes asymmetries. Additionally, circles can increase asymmetry, especially in the pelvis.

The research team concluded that it was not known how many asymmetries were caused by pain or are a result of naturel unevenness. Additionally, asymmetric training may also be a factor in unevenness in horses.

Read the full study here.

The post Asymmetry In Horses: Not Always Related To Lameness appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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