Skip to main content
SLU:s publikationsdatabas (SLUpub)

Översiktsartikel2020Vetenskapligt granskad

Equestrian and biomechanical perspectives on laterality in the horse

Bystrom, A.; Clayton, H. M.; Hernlund, E.; Rhodin, M.; Egenvall, A.


It has been suggested that one of the underlying causes of asymmetrical performance and left/right bias in sound riding horses is laterality originating in the cerebral cortices described in many species. The aim of this paper is to review the published evidence for inherent biomechanical laterality in horses deemed to be clinically sound and relate these findings to descriptions of sidedness in equestrian texts. There are no established criteria to determine if a horse is left or right dominant but the preferred limb has been defined as the forelimb that is more frequently protracted during stance and when grazing. Findings on left-right differences in forelimb hoof shape and front hoof angles have been linked to asymmetric forelimb ground reaction forces. Asymmetries interpreted as motor laterality have been found among foals and unhandled youngsters, and the consistency or extent of asymmetries seems to increase with age. Expressions of laterality also vary with breed, sex, training and handling, stress, and body shape but there are no studies of the possible link between laterality and lameness. In a recent study of a group of seven dressage horses, a movement pattern in many ways similar to descriptions of sidedness in the equestrian literature, e.g. one hind limb being more protracted and placed more laterally than the other, has been documented. The role of innate laterality versus painful conditions, training, human handedness and simply habit remains to be determined. Understanding the biomechanical manifestations of laterality in healthy horses, including individual variation, would yield a potential basis for how laterality should be taken into account in relation to training/riding and rehabilitation of lameness.


equine; laterality; biomechanics; asymmetry; riding; sidedness; lameness

Publicerad i

Comparative Exercise Physiology
2020, Volym: 16, nummer: 1, sidor: 35-45