Special Issue "Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Animal System and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Chris W. Rogers
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Veterinary Science, Massey University, Palmerston North 4470, New Zealand
Interests: equine biomechanics; equine exercise physiology; equine industry epidemiology; equestrian sport

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Movement is an essential skill for all animals, yet the mechanisms and techniques employed to achieve this vary greatly within the animal kingdom. The discipline of biomechanics provides a framework to understand and explain the variety of ways that an animal’s form and function permits or optimises locomotion in relation to the ecological niche (for wildlife) or production system (for domestic species). However, the relationship between form and function is not static, as locomotion (exercise) induces stresses and loads that stimulate tissue responses as part of the adaptive process. An example of this is the interaction of exercise and changes in the material properties of tissues, such as the rapid and dynamic response of cortical bone at the mid-shaft of the third metacarpal bone (cannon bone) in Thoroughbred racehorses to only a few strides of galloping exercise.

In an animal production context, understanding the impacts that exercise and movement has on the form and function of the underlying structures (body systems) of an animal permits greater opportunity for the implementation of management systems that reduce the risk of injury and loss. In a feral or wildlife context, greater understanding of the form and function of wildlife can lead to implementation of improved conservation and management strategies.

This Special Issue “Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals” aims to demonstrate the breadth of current biomechanics research, the variation in how animals utilise different approaches to optimise locomotion and movement and the interactions of these with body systems.

Dr. Chris W. Rogers
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • biomechanics
  • exercise physiology
  • locomotion
  • activity

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Trot Accelerations of Equine Front and Hind Hooves Shod with Polyurethane Composite Shoes and Steel Shoes on Asphalt
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1119; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121119 - 11 Dec 2019
Abstract
The present study investigated accelerations of the front and hind hooves of horses comparing two different shoe types. A standard steel shoe, with studs, pins, and in some instances with toe grabs, was compared to a steel shoe covered on the bottom with [...] Read more.
The present study investigated accelerations of the front and hind hooves of horses comparing two different shoe types. A standard steel shoe, with studs, pins, and in some instances with toe grabs, was compared to a steel shoe covered on the bottom with a layer of polyurethane. Four horses were used; they trotted in hand on an asphalt track at their self-selected speed. The results showed significantly reduced decelerations during the stance phase with the polyurethane-covered shoes (10th percentile median steel −2.77 g, polyurethane −2.46 g; p = 0.06) and significantly increased decelerations in front hooves compared to hind hooves with steel shoes (70th percentile median −1.04 g front hooves, 0.12 g hind hooves, p = 0.04). Horses trotted faster using longer strides with the polyurethane-covered shoes compared to the steel shoes. The results show that effects of shoe types should be investigated simultaneously in front and hind hooves, and that PU shoes may aid in reducing the overload present in the front limbs of horses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
Changes in Hoof Shape During a Seven-Week Period When Horses Were Shod Versus Barefoot
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1017; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121017 - 22 Nov 2019
Abstract
This crossover study tested the hypothesis that hoof shape would differ after a seven-week period of horses (n = 11) wearing shoes versus barefoot. An ANOVA appropriate to a crossover design was used to assess the differences in the change in hoof [...] Read more.
This crossover study tested the hypothesis that hoof shape would differ after a seven-week period of horses (n = 11) wearing shoes versus barefoot. An ANOVA appropriate to a crossover design was used to assess the differences in the change in hoof shape over the seven-week period and significance was set at p < 0.05. Results are displayed as the mean difference for horses when shod versus barefoot ± the SEM for the left (L) and right (R) front hooves. Proximal hoof circumference (PHC) decreased when horses were shod and barefoot, but this decrease was greater when horses were shod (L −0.65 ± 0.16 cm; p = 0.0026; R −0.78 ± 0.13 cm; p = 0.0002). Hoof angle increased slightly when horses were barefoot and decreased when they were shod (L −1.70 ± 0.31°; p = 0.0004; R −1.84 ± 0.54°; p = 0.0079). Sole length decreased more when horses were barefoot, but this was only significant for the right fore (R 5.07 ± 1.06 mm; p = 0.0010). Solar circumference increased when horses were barefoot but decreased when shod (L −1.19 ± 0.41 cm; p = 0.0182; R −1.50 ± 0.31 cm; p = 0.0010). This is the first study to show a significantly lower PHC when horses were shod compared to barefoot. The study suggests that shod horses may benefit from a shorter shoeing interval to help mitigate the changes in hoof angle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
Measuring Volumetric Changes of Equine Distal Limbs: A Pilot Study Examining Jumping Exercise
Animals 2019, 9(10), 751; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100751 - 30 Sep 2019
Abstract
Equine athletes can incur musculoskeletal injuries due to repetitive loading during training and competition. Prior to signs of lameness, horse trainers and veterinarians may observe swelling in the distal limbs, where injuries most frequently occur. Early observations may guide modulation of training to [...] Read more.
Equine athletes can incur musculoskeletal injuries due to repetitive loading during training and competition. Prior to signs of lameness, horse trainers and veterinarians may observe swelling in the distal limbs, where injuries most frequently occur. Early observations may guide modulation of training to manage physiological stress and mitigate risk of injury. However, these observations of changing limb volume can be subjective and imprecise. The aim of this study was to assess the accuracy and applicability of a tablet-mounted, 3D scanner to measure and record distal limb volumes of horses before and after exercise. Users recorded scans of a cylinder of known volume with errors up to 8%. Experienced users’ measures were biased (i.e., consistently overestimated). The scanner was able to detect statistically significant increases in volume for both fore and hind limbs after one jumping session (310–2058 cm3). Age and intensity of workload may play a role in magnitude of limb swelling, but had mixed conclusions between fore and hind limbs. More studies with additional horses must be performed to solidify these relationships. The evaluated 3D scanner is a low-cost, accessible tool that was able to detect changes in limb swelling as a result of exercise and mechanical stress. With continued research, this information may guide training programs to decrease injury and maximize performance of equine athletes in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
Rein Tension in Transitions and Halts during Equestrian Dressage Training
Animals 2019, 9(10), 712; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100712 - 23 Sep 2019
Abstract
In dressage, the performance of transitions between gaits and halts is an integral part of riding sessions. The study aimed to evaluate rein tension before, during and after the transitions between different gaits and the transitions into halts. The kinematic (inertial measurement units) [...] Read more.
In dressage, the performance of transitions between gaits and halts is an integral part of riding sessions. The study aimed to evaluate rein tension before, during and after the transitions between different gaits and the transitions into halts. The kinematic (inertial measurement units) data for the head and croup, and rein tension data, were collected (128 Hz) from six professional riders each riding three of their own horses, training levels varying from basic to advanced, during normal training sessions. The activities were categorised into gaits, halts and transitions based on video evaluation. The transitions were categorised as without (type 1) or with (type 2) intermediate steps that are not normally present in the gaits preceding or following the transition. The differences in the median rein tension before/during/after transitions, between the types and left/right reins were analysed in mixed models. The rein tension just before the transition was the strongest determinant of tension during the transition. The rein tension was slightly lower during upward transitions compared to downward transitions, reflecting the pattern of the preceding gait. Type 1 and 2 downward transitions were not different regarding rein tension. The left rein tension was lower than right rein tension. The rein tension associated with the transitions and halts varied substantially between riders and horses. The generally strong association of the gaits and their inherent biomechanics with rein tension should be taken into account when riding transitions and halts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
Sheep Quickstep while the Floor Rock and Rolls: Visuomotor Lateralization during Simulated Sea Travel
Animals 2019, 9(9), 700; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090700 - 18 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Unpredictable floor motions during transport disturbs animals’ balance, requiring stepping to move the centre of gravity in the direction of body movement. When repeated regularly, this may be stressful, requiring involvement of the right brain hemisphere, hence we investigated the existence of behavioral [...] Read more.
Unpredictable floor motions during transport disturbs animals’ balance, requiring stepping to move the centre of gravity in the direction of body movement. When repeated regularly, this may be stressful, requiring involvement of the right brain hemisphere, hence we investigated the existence of behavioral laterality in sheep during prolonged floor motions. Six sheep were restrained in pairs on a programmable rocking platform, in which they were unable to turn around. They were exposed to three continuous rocking motion treatments (roll, pitch or both) in a regular or irregular pattern for 1 h periods in a changeover design. Right forelimb and left hindlimb diagonal stepping was more frequent in response to the motion treatment of irregular roll and pitch, which previous research has suggested to be the most stressful from heart rate measurements. An overall strategy to maintain balance appeared to be the use of the right hindlimb as a stabilizer, which was repositioned least often of all limbs until towards the end of the hour of experimental treatment. Of each tested pair, sheep restrained on the left side of the rocking floor stepped significantly often than its partner restrained on the right side, and we postulate the existence of visuomotor lateralization as left restrained sheep were unable to view their partner within the field of view of their left eye. We also investigated which side sheep lie down on, which if left lateralized could explain our observed bipedal diagonal control of sheep balance under stress. From the observation of 412 web-based images of sheep, there was an overall left-sided laterality to their lying, as has been observed in cattle. We conclude that stepping activity in sheep in response to a motion stressor is lateralized, providing evidence that floor motion experienced in transport may induce stress responses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
Irish Equine Industry Stakeholder Perspectives of Objective Technology for Biomechanical Analyses in the Field
Animals 2019, 9(8), 539; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080539 - 08 Aug 2019
Abstract
Wearable sensing technologies are increasingly used in human and equine gait research to improve ecological validity of research findings. It is unclear how these tools have penetrated the equine industry or what perspectives industry stakeholders’ hold in relation to these relatively new devices. [...] Read more.
Wearable sensing technologies are increasingly used in human and equine gait research to improve ecological validity of research findings. It is unclear how these tools have penetrated the equine industry or what perspectives industry stakeholders’ hold in relation to these relatively new devices. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with Irish equine industry stakeholders to understand their perception of objective tools for biomechanical analysis in the field. The study participants came from professional/elite backgrounds in both the sport horse (n = 6) and thoroughbred (n = 6) sectors. The interview data were analysed using thematic analysis, resulting in four analytical themes. The first theme conveys the importance of tacit knowledge and experience in the holistic analysis of a horse. Theme two highlights that the perfect horse does not exist therefore, equine athlete management is complex and requires a multi-layered problem-solving approach. Theme three describes an awareness among stakeholders of technologies, however they are sceptical of their value. The final theme identified that one of the key barriers to technology adoption is the economic value of the horse and the cost of implementing technology herd-wide. Our findings highlight the need for a user-centred design in this domain, which requires greater consultation and learning between technology developers and equine stakeholders to develop fit-for-purpose analysis and monitoring tools. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
Open AccessArticle
Finite Element Modelling Simulated Meniscus Translocation and Deformation during Locomotion of the Equine Stifle
Animals 2019, 9(8), 502; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080502 - 31 Jul 2019
Abstract
We developed a finite element model (FEM) of the equine stifle joint to identify pressure peaks and simulate translocation and deformation of the menisci. A series of sectional magnetic resonance images (1.5 T) of the stifle joint of a 23 year old Shetland [...] Read more.
We developed a finite element model (FEM) of the equine stifle joint to identify pressure peaks and simulate translocation and deformation of the menisci. A series of sectional magnetic resonance images (1.5 T) of the stifle joint of a 23 year old Shetland pony gelding served as basis for image segmentation. Based on the 3D polygon models of femur, tibia, articular cartilages, menisci, collateral ligaments and the meniscotibial ligaments, an FEM model was generated. Tissue material properties were assigned based on data from human (Open knee(s) project) and bovine femoro-tibial joint available in the literature. The FEM model was tested across a range of motion of approximately 30°. Pressure load was overall higher in the lateral meniscus than in the medial. Accordingly, the simulation showed higher translocation and deformation in the lateral compared to the medial meniscus. The results encourage further refinement of this model for studying loading patterns on menisci and articular cartilages as well as the resulting mechanical stress in the subchondral bone (femur and tibia). A functional FEM model can not only help identify segments in the stifle which are predisposed to injury, but also to better understand the progression of certain stifle disorders, simulate treatment/surgery effects and to optimize implant/transplant properties. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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Open AccessArticle
The Effect of Training on Stride Duration in a Cohort of Two-Year-Old and Three-Year-Old Thoroughbred Racehorses
Animals 2019, 9(7), 466; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070466 - 22 Jul 2019
Abstract
Objective gait monitoring is increasingly accessible to trainers. A more comprehensive understanding of ‘normal’ gait adaptations is required. Forty two-year-old thoroughbred racehorses were recruited when entering training and followed for 22 months. Gait analysis was performed by equipping each horse with an inertial [...] Read more.
Objective gait monitoring is increasingly accessible to trainers. A more comprehensive understanding of ‘normal’ gait adaptations is required. Forty two-year-old thoroughbred racehorses were recruited when entering training and followed for 22 months. Gait analysis was performed by equipping each horse with an inertial measurement unit with inbuilt GPS (GPS-IMU) mounted on the dorsum. Horses were exercised as per their regular training regimen. Data were analysed using a linear mixed model. For two-year-old horses, there was a non-linear pattern of stride duration (SD) over time (p < 0.001) with SD decreasing initially and then ‘flattening off’ over time (linear and quadratic coefficients −0.29 ms/week and 0.006 ms/week2). Horses showed an increase in SD of 2.21 ms (p < 0.001) per 100 m galloped, and over time, SD decreased by 0.04 ms (p < 0.001) with each 100 m galloped per week. Three-year-old horses overall showed no change in SD over time (p = 0.52), but those that had a period of time off showed a decrease in SD of −0.59 ms per week (p = 0.02). They showed an increase in SD of 1.99 ms (p < 0.001) per 100 m galloped, and horses that had a period of time off showed an increase in stride duration of 1.05 ms per 100 m galloped (p = 0.01) compared to horses which did not have time off. Horses demonstrate an adaptation to high-speed exercise over time. SD decreases with training when other factors are controlled for in naïve horses. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)

Review

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Open AccessReview
A Review of Biomechanical Gait Classification with Reference to Collected Trot, Passage and Piaffe in Dressage Horses
Animals 2019, 9(10), 763; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100763 - 03 Oct 2019
Abstract
Gaits are typically classified as walking or running based on kinematics, the shape of the vertical ground reaction force (GRF) curve, and the use of inverted pendulum or spring-mass mechanics during the stance phase. The objectives of this review were to describe the [...] Read more.
Gaits are typically classified as walking or running based on kinematics, the shape of the vertical ground reaction force (GRF) curve, and the use of inverted pendulum or spring-mass mechanics during the stance phase. The objectives of this review were to describe the biomechanical characteristics that differentiate walking and running gaits, then apply these criteria to classify and compare the enhanced natural gait of collected trot with the artificial gaits of passage and piaffe as performed by highly trained dressage horses. Limb contact and lift off times were used to determine contact sequence, limb phase, duty factor, and aerial phase duration. Ground reaction force data were plotted to assess fore and hind limb loading patterns. The center of mass (COM) trajectory was evaluated in relation to changes in potential and kinetic energy to assess the use of inverted pendulum and spring-mass mechanics. Collected trot and passage were classified as running gaits according to all three criteria whereas piaffe appears to be a hybrid gait combining walking kinematics with running GRFs and COM mechanics. The hind limbs act as springs and show greater limb compression in passage and piaffe compared with trot, whereas the forelimbs behave more like struts showing less compression in passage and piaffe than in trot. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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Open AccessReview
Does Juvenile Play Programme the Equine Musculoskeletal System?
Animals 2019, 9(9), 646; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090646 - 03 Sep 2019
Abstract
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) [...] Read more.
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. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomechanics of the Exercising Animals)
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