Next Article in Journal
Laterality as a Tool for Assessing Breed Differences in Emotional Reactivity in the Domestic Cat, Felis silvestris catus
Next Article in Special Issue
Sheep Quickstep while the Floor Rock and Rolls: Visuomotor Lateralization during Simulated Sea Travel
Previous Article in Journal
Evaluating Animal-Assisted Interventions: An Empirical Illustration of Differences between Outcome Measures
Previous Article in Special Issue
Irish Equine Industry Stakeholder Perspectives of Objective Technology for Biomechanical Analyses in the Field
Open AccessReview

Does Juvenile Play Programme the Equine Musculoskeletal System?

1
School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
2
School of Agriculture and Environment, Massey University, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4410, New Zealand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 646; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090646
Received: 26 July 2019 / Revised: 29 August 2019 / Accepted: 2 September 2019 / Published: 3 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
Locomotor play is a common behaviour expressed across a diverse range of species. As a cursorial animal, the horse is capable of locomotor activity within a relatively short time after birth. In the foal, spontaneous locomotor play occurs early in life and has an obvious role in the development of locomotor skills. The intensity and vigour of locomotor play increases with age and this, in turn, provides cumulative increases in the loads the musculoskeletal system experiences. These progressive cumulative loading cycles (bouts of locomotor play), in both the timing and magnitude, reflect the microstrain required to stimulate bone development based on the mechanostat theorem. Data from the published literature were presented to provide empirical support for this hypothesis. Thus, spontaneous locomotor play may be vital to ensure optimal bone development in the horse. Modern production systems need to provide appropriate opportunities for foals to perform spontaneous locomotor play to optimise bone development and reduce the risk of future musculoskeletal injury later in life.
In mammals, play behaviour appears innate and, because of this, may provide insight into the frequency and intensity of load that is required to stimulate positive musculoskeletal development. The objective of this review was to explore the interaction between play and tissue (bone) development at a molecular through to whole-animal level, with specific focus on the horse as a model. The basis of our understanding of the response of bone to loading is the mechanostat theorem. This assumes that at a tissue level, bone attempts to keep localised strain within the physiological range of 1500–2500 microstrain. Loads above this range result in a modelling response to reduce strain, and strain below this threshold results in remodelling to maintain the localised physiological range. In foals, locomotor play is dramatic and vigorous, with cumulative increases in both intensity and complexity. Based on published literature describing locomotor play in foals and the microstrain at different gaits in the horse, it was proposed that locomotor play in foal aligns with the mechanostat theorem in both the magnitude and frequency of load cycles applied. The cumulative increases in the complexity and intensity of locomotor play as the foal develops, in turn, ensure the strain rates associated with play remain above the local physiological range and promote material and architectural changes in the distal limb bones. Thus, spontaneous locomotor play may be vital to ensure optimal bone development in the horse. Modern management systems need to provide appropriate opportunities for foals to perform spontaneous locomotor play to optimise bone development and reduce the risk of future musculoskeletal injury later in life. View Full-Text
Keywords: horse; bone; play; foal; mechanostat horse; bone; play; foal; mechanostat
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Rogers, C.W.; Dittmer, K.E. Does Juvenile Play Programme the Equine Musculoskeletal System? Animals 2019, 9, 646.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map

1
Back to TopTop