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Equine Wellness Seminars are a fantastic way to become more familiar with your horse's state of being.  Be able to detect subtle issues before they become a major issue for your horse by learning simple techniques.  Wellness education is within your reach, make the move to learn more today!  See the Clininc tab for more information on current clinics.

Science furthers the understanding of equine locomotion!
Click the link below to watch a digitized video of a horse
jumping over a 0.8 meter jump.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e02w0bPXfh8

Consideration of equine movement requires an understanding of gaits and strides.  A gait is a pattern of footfalls that determine the rhythm.  A stride is defined as a full sequence of footfalls from all four feet, hoof print to hoof print. 

The digital image of a horse jumping is showing hind limb placement on a force platform relative to the base of the obstacle.  The forelimb during jumping acts as a brake, with the higher jumps requiring more forelimb action during take off.  The same effect is seen during normal locomotion over ground, with the forelimb providing first braking power and then forward propulsion as the body passes over the vertical stance phase of the limb.

Regular over ground locomotion has been studied extensively over the past decade and has provided us with much knowledge of equine movement.  Understanding the mechanics of normal movement can be of great help with regards to equine wellness.  Consider the following a basic primer on equine locomotion.

The organized sequence of footfalls determines how the limbs are synchronized during a stride.  Each step can be broken down into 2 phases, stance and swing. 

To create over-ground movement, the horse must apply pressure to the ground via an extended limb (stance phase) and advance by pulling the torso over that limb.  After the horse moves over the limb, the limb leaves the ground; it is then flexed and brought closer to the body (swing phase) so that it may be extended again for the next step.

The duration the leg is in contact with the ground is called the time of contact.  Allowing adequate time of contact for the horse to produce movement is important to maintain gait quality.  Moving too slowly will result in lack of impulsion with energy being wasted due to the delay between loading the limb and elastic return of the stored energy in elastic tissues.  Conversely, steps that are hurried will result in a loss of rhythm and result in poor gait quality. 

Remember that a horse that is said to be “forward” is not moving at the fastest velocity possible for that gait, and by hurrying your horse there is an increased chance of injury and a definite decrease in gait quality. Injury can occur if correct biomechanics are not used during movement, leading to accumulated tension patterns that can hinder normal movement or even lead to injury!

 
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