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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Movement asymmetries in horses presented for prepurchase or lameness examination

Hardeman, Aagje M.; Egenvall, Agneta; Braganca, Filipe M. Serra; Koene, Marc H. W.; Swagemakers, Jan-Hein; Roepstorff, Lars; van Weeren, Rene; Bystrom, Anna


Background The increasing popularity of objective gait analysis makes application in prepurchase examinations (PPE) a logical next step. Therefore, there is a need to have more understanding of asymmetry during a PPE in horses described on clinical evaluation as subtly lame.Objectives The objective of this study is to objectively compare asymmetry in horses raising minor vet concerns in a PPE and in horses raising major vet concerns with that found in horses presented with subtle single-limb lameness, and to investigate the effect of age/discipline on the clinicians' interpretation of asymmetry on the classification of minor vet concerns in a PPE.Study Design Clinical case-series.Methods Horses presented for PPE (n = 98) or subjectively evaluated as single limb low-grade (1-2/5) lame (n = 24, 13 forelimb lame, 11 hindlimb lame), from the patient population of a single clinic, were enrolled in the study provided that owners were willing to participate. Horses undergoing PPE were assigned a classification of having minor vet concerns (n = 84) or major vet concerns (n = 14) based on findings during the dynamic-orthopaedic part of the PPE. Lame horses were only included if pain-related lameness was confirmed by an objective improvement after diagnostic analgesia exceeding daily variation determined for equine symmetry parameters using optical motion capture. Clinical evaluation was performed by six different clinicians, each with >= 8 years of equine orthopaedic experience. Vertical movement symmetry was measured using optical motion capture, simultaneously with the orthopaedic examination. Data were analysed using previously described parameters and mixed model analysis and least squares means were used to calculate differences between groups.Results There was no effect of age or discipline on the levels of asymmetry within PPE horses raising minor vet concerns. MinDiff and RUD of the head discriminated between forelimb lame and PPE horses raising minor vet concerns; MinDiff, MaxDiff, RUD of the Pelvis, HHDswing and HHDstance did so for hindlimb lameness. Two lameness patterns differentiated both forelimb and hindlimb lame from PPE horses with minor vet concerns: RUD Poll + MinDiff Withers - RUD Pelvis and RUD Pelvis + RUD Poll - MinDiff Withers. Correcting for vertical range of motion enabled differentiation of PPE horses with minor vet concerns from PPE horses with major vet concerns.Main Limitations Objective data only based on trot on soft surface, limited number of PPE horses with major vet concerns.Conclusions Combinations of kinematic parameters discriminate between PPE horses with minor vet concerns and subtly lame horses, though overlap exists.


clinical; gait analysis; horse; kinematics; lameness; PPE; purchase evaluation

Published in

Equine Veterinary Journal
2022, Volume: 54, number: 2, pages: 334-346
Publisher: WILEY