Effect of forelimb lameness on hoof kinematics of horses at a trot

Valerie J. Moorman, DVM, PhD; Raoul F. Reiser II, PhD; Michael L. Peterson, PhD; C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, DSc; Chris E. Kawcak, DVM, PhD
September 2013
American Journal of Veterinary Research

Objective—To determine kinematic changes to the hoof of horses at a trot after induction of unilateral, weight-bearing forelimb lameness and to determine whether hoof kinematics return to prelameness values after perineural anesthesia.

Animals—6 clinically normal Quarter Horses.

Procedures—For each horse, a sole-pressure model was used to induce 3 grades (grades 1, 2, and 3) of lameness in the right forelimb, after which perineural anesthesia was administered to alleviate lameness. Optical kinematics were obtained for both forelimbs with the horse trotting before (baseline) and after induction of each grade of lameness and after perineural anesthesia. Hoof events were identified with linear acceleration profiles, and each stride was divided into hoof-contact, break-over, initial-swing, terminal-swing, and total-swing segments. For each segment, kinematic variables were compared within and between limbs by use of mixed repeated-measures ANOVA.

Results—During hoof-contact, the left (nonlame) forelimb hoof had greater heel-down orientation than did the right (lame) forelimb hoof, and during break-over, the nonlame hoof went through a larger range of motion than did the lame hoof. Maximum cranial acceleration during break-over for the lame hoof was greater, compared with that at baseline or for the nonlame hoof. Following perineural anesthesia, the sagittal plane orientation of the hoof during hoof-contact did not vary between the lame and nonlame limbs; however, interlimb differences in maximum cranial acceleration and angular range of motion during break-over remained.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results suggested that hoof kinematics may be useful for detection of unilateral, weight-bearing forelimb lameness in horses that are trotting.