Effects of acceleration on gait measures in three horse gaits
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
The journal of experimental biology. - London
, p. 1453-1460
University of Antwerp
Animals switch gaits according to locomotor speed. In terrestrial locomotion, gaits have been defined according to footfall patterns or differences in center of mass (COM) motion, which characterizes mechanisms that are more general and more predictive than footfall patterns. This has generated different variables designed primarily to evaluate steady-speed locomotion, which is easier to standardize in laboratory conditions. However, in the ecology of an animal, steady-state conditions are rare and the ability to accelerate, decelerate and turn is essential. Currently, there are no data available that have tested whether COM variables can be used in accelerative or decelerative conditions. This study used a data set of kinematics and kinetics of horses using three gaits (walk, trot, canter) to evaluate the effects of acceleration (both positive and negative) on commonly used gait descriptors. The goal was to identify variables that distinguish between gaits both at steady state and during acceleration/deceleration. These variables will either be unaffected by acceleration or affected by it in a predictable way. Congruity, phase shift and COM velocity angle did not distinguish between gaits when the dataset included trials in unsteady conditions. Work (positive and negative) and energy recovery distinguished between gaits and showed a clear relationship with acceleration. Hodographs are interesting graphical representations to study COM mechanics, but they are descriptive rather than quantitative. Force angle, collision angle and collision fraction showed a U-shaped relationship with acceleration and seem promising tools for future research in unsteady conditions.