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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Locomotion asymmetry in young Standardbred trotters in training and links to future racing career

Jansson, A.; Ringmark, S.; Johansson, L.; Roepstorff, L.


This study evaluated whether front and hind limb symmetry patterns observed from 1.5 through 3 years of age in Standardbred trotters in training affect racing activity at older age. The hypothesis tested was that asymmetries observed during this period are linked to reduced number of lifetime races and low earnings. Sixteen Standardbreds were subjected to a controlled training and dietary programme from the age of 1.5 years until December as 3-year-olds (P1) and then continued their career with other trainers. On 17 occasions during P1, locomotion asymmetry (vector sum) in front and hind limbs during trot in hand was recorded with a sensor-based system. By 10 years of age, data on lifetime number of races and earnings of the horses were obtained from the Swedish Trotting Association. Horses were divided in groups based on the number of lifetime races performed, i.e. more or less than the median of the cohort born the same year. Mean asymmetry levels did not differ between horses performing more or less lifetime races than the cohort median. However, horses that showed the poorest lifetime race activity showed elevated hind limb asymmetry in August at the age of 3 years, compared to horses with more races (group median: 6 +/- 2 mm (P=0.02)). There were no correlations between individual mean and peak asymmetries and lifetime earnings. It is concluded that locomotion symmetry observed during trot in hand at the age of 1.5-year-olds to December as 3-year-olds was not a simple and straight-forward predictor of future racing career. However, hind limb asymmetries of around 10 mm in the late season as 3-year-olds could be a warning of impaired future performance.


earnings; lameness; symmetry; performance

Published in

Comparative Exercise Physiology
2022, Volume: 18, number: 2, pages: 85-92