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Evaluation of vertical movement asymmetries in riding horses: relevance to equine orthopaedics

Persson Sjödin, Emma


Disorders of the locomotor apparatus are very common in sports horses. Pain and dysfunction associated with these conditions have a negative impact on horse welfare. The main component in lameness evaluation is detection of vertical movement asymmetries but the inter-rater agreement among veterinarians is low. Therefore, modern methods of detection and quantification of movement asymmetry have been developed.

The aim of this thesis was to help improve equine welfare by providing a better scientific basis for interpretation of movement asymmetries. This could support riders and veterinarians in detecting lameness at an early stage and improve orthopaedic diagnostics.

To investigate a possible association between movement asymmetry and presence of painful orthopaedic conditions, NSAID (meloxicam) treatment was performed in asymmetrically moving, but presumed sound horses. Interestingly, this did not decrease the magnitude of asymmetry. Other reasons for asymmetric movement and the clinical efficacy of treatment with meloxicam in relation to a potentially present pathology therefore need to be addressed.

The influence of the rider’s seating style on vertical movement symmetry in trot was evaluated in 26 horses. ‘Rising trot’ induced systematic changes, the most prominent being a decreased pelvic rise, mimicking push-off lameness in the hindlimb of the diagonal on which the rider was sitting in ‘rising trot’.

The potential of the relationship between the direction of head and withers movement asymmetry parameters to assist in locating the primary lame limb was investigated in horses with induced lameness. The findings were then verified in horses with naturally occurring lameness. The results showed that head and withers movement asymmetry parameters indicate the same forelimb in horses with forelimb lameness, but indicate opposite forelimbs in horses with hindlimb lameness and compensatory head movement asymmetry.

The results presented in this thesis extend existing knowledge about the origin and significance of movement asymmetries in riding horses and compensatory mechanisms in lame horses


compensatory lameness; withers asymmetry; optical motion capture; inertial measurement units; NSAID; rising trot; rider; lameness; equine; kinematics

Publicerad i

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2020, nummer: 2020:12ISBN: 978-91-7760-542-3, eISBN: 978-91-7760-543-0
Utgivare: Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences