Trunk deformation in the trotting horse
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Equine veterinary journal
, p. 203-206
Reasons for performing study: Estimates of the position of the centres of mass (CM) of body segments are usually extrapolated relative to bony landmarks as determined in cadaver studies. This extrapolation assumes that segments are rigid bodies. Since the trunk represents a large percentage of the total body mass in horses, violation of the rigid body assumption by the trunk segment has important consequences for studying the biomechanics of equine locomotion. Objectives: To assess the magnitude of error in CM position due to deformability of the trunk segment and the timing of these errors during the trotting stride. The hypothesis was that shape changes during a stride are repeatable and predictable. Methods: Forty skin markers were attached in a grid pattern on the trunks of 6 adult horses, with an additional marker attached to each hoof. The markers were tracked using an 8 camera motion analysis system. Each horse was tested at 10 different velocities during trotting. The CM of the trunk was calculated under the assumption of a rigid body, based on 5 spine markers and from the volume encompassed by the 40 markers. The difference between the 2 calculation methods quantifies the effect of trunk deformation on the position of the CM. Results: The trunk changed shape during locomotion in a repeatable manner resulting in cyclic changes in CM position. Amplitudes of the CM displacement due to trunk deformation were equal in magnitude in the transverse and longitudinal directions. In the vertical direction, the CM moved only at half the amplitude. Magnitudes were strongly horse-dependent. Conclusions and potential relevance: Shape changes in the equine trunk segment in the horizontal plane should be taken into account when modelling locomotion of horses. Amplitudes are horse dependent, complicating the development of correction routines.