Reasons for performing study: The compensatory mechanisms of horses with weightbearing hindlimb lameness are still not fully understood.
Hypothesis: That weightbearing, unilateral hindlimb lameness would not only alter stride characteristics to diminish structural stress in the affected limb but also induce compensatory load adjustments in the other supporting limbs.
Objective: To document the load and time shifting mechanisms of horses with unilateral weightbearing hindlimb lameness.
Methods: Reversible lameness was induced in 8 clinically sound horses by applying a solar pressure model. Three degrees of lameness (subtle, mild and moderate) were induced and compared with the nonlame (sound) control measurement. Vertical ground reaction forces were recorded for all 4 limbs simultaneously on an instrumented treadmill.
Results: Compared to the sound situation, moderate hindlimb hoof lameness induced a decrease in stride duration (‐3.3%) and stride impulse (‐3.1%). Diagonal impulse decreased selectively in the lame diagonal stance (‐7.7%). Within the diagonal limb pair, vertical impulse was shifted to the forelimb during the lame diagonal stance (+6.5%) and to the hindlimb during the sound diagonal stance (+3.2%). Peak vertical force and vertical impulse decreased in the lame limb (‐15%), but only vertical impulse increased in the contralateral hindlimb (+5.7%). Stance duration was prolonged in both hindlimbs (+2.5%). Suspension duration was reduced to a greater extent after push‐off of the lame diagonal limb pair (‐21%) than after the sound diagonal limb pair (‐9.2%).
Conclusions: Four compensatory mechanisms could be identified that served to reduce structural stress, i.e. peak vertical force on the affected limb: 1) reduction of the total vertical impulse per stride; 2) diagonal impulse decreased selectively in the lame diagonal; 3) impulse was shifted within the lame diagonal to the forelimb and in the sound diagonal to the hindlimb; and 4) the rate of loading and peak forces were reduced by prolonging the stance duration.
Potential relevance: Load shifting mechanisms are not only effective in diminishing peak forces in the affected limb, but also suppress compensatory overload in other limbs. Selected force and time parameters allow the unequivocal identification of the lame limb. Future studies have to examine how far these compensatory mechanisms may be generalised for other defined orthopaedic problems in the hindlimb.
The objective of this study was to compare the stress response of horses suffering from laminitis after short- and long-term treatment with the intent to evaluate power spectral analysis of heart rate variability (HRV) for pain monitoring. Data were collected from 19 horses with acute or chronic exacerbating laminitis without known primary disease before and after treatment with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID). Recordings were carried out the day after admission to the equine hospital. Measurements were repeated on day 7 of the treatment. The recorded parameters included a clinical orthopaedic index (OLPI: Obel-grade plus hoof tester score), frequency of weight-shifting between contralateral limbs, mean beat-to-beat interval (R-R) duration, standard deviation of continuous R-R intervals, low- (LF) and high-frequency (HF) components of HRV, sympatho-vagal balance (LF/HF), and plasma concentration of cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenalin. The LF represents mainly sympathetic influences on the heart whereas HF is mediated by the parasympathetic tone. Weight-shifting and OLPI decreased significantly with treatment. The LF normalized units (n.u.) decreased after NSAID from 60.41 +/- 21.42 to 51.12 +/- 19.81 and was 49.33 +/- 22.64 on day 7, whereas HF n.u. increased from 35.07 +/- 20.02 to 43.14 +/- 18.30 and was 45.98 +/- 23.00 on day 7. Hormone levels showed no tendency to change with treatment. The OLPI was only correlated with LF/HF, LF and HF (R = 0.57, 0.55 and -0.54 respectively). Significant negative correlations existed between HFn.u. and weight-shifting frequency (R = -0.37), HFn.u. and adrenalin (R = -0.47), and HFn.u. and noradrenalin (R = 0.33). The LFn.u. only correlated positively with adrenalin. Cortisol levels were poorly associated with the other parameters. Determination of the sympatho-vagal influences on cardiac function may offer complementary information for reliable assessment of pain and may represent a valuable alternative method to catecholamine measurements.
Background: Stress echocardiography is used to diagnose myocardial dysfunction in horses, but current methods are not well standardized. The influence of heart rate (HR) on measurements is largely unknown.Objectives: To investigate the use of 2-dimensional echocardiography (2DE), anatomical M-mode (AMM), tissue Doppler imaging (TDI), and 2D speckle tracking (2DST) at rest and after exercise for quantification of regional and global left-ventricular (LV) function.Animals: Five athletic Warmblood horses; 11.6 AE 3.6 years; 529 AE 48 kg. Methods: Prospective study. Three separate echocardiographic examinations were performed before (baseline) and over 5 minutes after treadmill exercise with 2DE (1st, short-axis view; 2nd, long-axis view) and pulsed-wave TDI (3rd examination). Offline analyses were performed at baseline and after exercise at HR 120, 110, 100, 90, and 80 minute À1 . Global and segmental measurements were compared by analysis of variance.Results: Quantitative analyses of stress echocardiograms were feasible in all horses. None of the AMM indices changed significantly after exercise. Stroke volume and ejection fraction by 2DE and strain by 2DST decreased, whereas strain rate by 2DST increased significantly at HR 4 100 minute À1 . TDI analyses were technically difficult and provided little additional information.Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Volumetric indices by 2DE and strain and strain rate by 2DST are applicable for quantitative assessment of stress echocardiograms. In healthy horses, they are significantly altered at a HR 4 100 minute À1 and need to be evaluated in view of the instantaneous HR. Further investigations are needed to define the clinical value of stress echocardiography in horses with cardiac disease.
Reasons for performing study: Little is known in quantitative terms about the influence of different head‐neck positions (HNPs) on the loading pattern of the locomotor apparatus. Therefore it is difficult to predict whether a specific riding technique is beneficial for the horse or if it may increase the risk for injury.
Objective: To improve the understanding of forelimb‐hindlimb balance and its underlying temporal changes in relation to different head and neck positions.
Methods: Vertical ground reaction force and time parameters of each limb were measured in 7 high level dressage horses while being ridden at walk and trot on an instrumented treadmill in 6 predetermined HNPs: HNP1 ‐ free, unrestrained with loose reins; HNP2 ‐ neck raised, bridge of the nose in front of the vertical; HNP3 ‐ neck raised, bridge of the nose behind the vertical; HNP4 ‐ neck lowered and flexed, bridge of the nose considerably behind the vertical; HNP5 ‐ neck extremely elevated and bridge of the nose considerably in front of the vertical; HNP6 ‐ neck and head extended forward and downward. Positions were judged by a qualified dressage judge. HNPs were assessed by comparing the data to a velocity‐matched reference HNP (HNP2). Differences were tested using paired t test or Wilcoxon signed rank test (P<0.05).
Results: At the walk, stride duration and overreach distance increased in HNP1, but decreased in HNP3 and HNP5. Stride impulse was shifted to the forehand in HNP1 and HNP6, but shifted to the hindquarters in HNP5. At the trot, stride duration increased in HNP4 and HNP5. Overreach distance was shorter in HNP4. Stride impulse shifted to the hindquarters in HNP5. In HNP1 peak forces decreased in the forelimbs; in HNP5 peak forces increased in fore‐ and hindlimbs.
Conclusions: HNP5 had the biggest impact on limb timing and load distribution and behaved inversely to HNP1 and HNP6. Shortening of forelimb stance duration in HNP5 increased peak forces although the percentage of stride impulse carried by the forelimbs decreased.
Potential relevance: An extremely high HNP affects functionality much more than an extremely low neck.
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