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Lightweight action “chains” were applied to the hind pasterns of nine clinically normal horses to determine their effects on movement of the hind limbs. The 2-ounce devices were made of a nylon strap attached around the pastern with small dangling brass chains that hung over the coronet onto the hoof wall. The objective of the study was to measure the devices’ effects on hoof flight patterns, hind limb flexion and the work done by the muscles in the hind limb.
Although speed and stride duration did not change with the devices, stance duration decreased and swing duration increased. Peak height of the hoof flight arc increased dramatically, and the hoof was raised more quickly. There was also a significant increase in flexion of the stifle, hock, fetlock and coffin joints throughout the swing phase and an increase in work done by the hock flexor muscles. No changes were detected in the flexion of the hip joint or work of the hip muscles.
The authors acknowledge that the increased animation produced by the devices might be a desirable training effect for some disciplines, but point out no advantage with sport horses that rely to a greater extent on hip flexors. However, their primary interest is to see how these devices may be used during rehabilitation to restore normal movement patterns after injury or immobilization and to strengthen stifle and hock joint musculature. The device could help horses that have a reduced range of motion that persists…