Walk This Way: Ataxic Horses Worsen When Blindfolded

Horses that have neurologic issues can show ataxia, which is an uncoordinated way of going. However, this incoordination can be difficult to tell apart from other lameness issues that are not neurologic in nature.

Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) in London have created a way to objectively distinguish between ataxia and lameness. Researchers found that ataxic horses have a greater variation in the movement of their lower limbs than horses that are sound. Blindfolding the horse, they found, made the deficits more pronounced. It is hypothesized that a compensatory mechanism exists that could be targeted for improved rehabilitation in ataxic horses.

Motion-capture cameras assessed the horse’s gaits down to 3mm while a panel of experts watched the horse as well. It was determined that horses with mild to moderate ataxia had an increased variation in the vertical movement of the hoof and fetlock that horses that were simply lame. Blindfolding specifically increased the variation in movement when walking.

Researchers say that this variation while blindfolded indicates that vision helps horses stabilize their gait. It is hoped that using these parameters will help identify ataxia in horses, as well as create a practical approach for veterinarians to use in the field. Additionally, it is hoped that treatments, both surgical and medical, will be developed to treat ataxic horses in the future.

Read more at HorseTalk.


The post Walk This Way: Ataxic Horses Worsen When Blindfolded appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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