How Uneven Feet Affect Locomotion

Understanding the relationship between movement and injury is key

In human locomotion, a lot is known about the pattern of central pressure on the foot as a step is taken. Typically, a normal pattern is defined as landing slightly laterally in a supinated position and then rolling toward the medial side of the foot into pronation. The toe-off is generally close to the middle of the foot. That path can be observed under each individual foot through a walking pattern.

We understand far less about the patterns of equine locomotion. It is widely suggested that horses tend to land laterally, although not all do. When a hoof lands laterally, it tends to roll down medially. With that movement, it is speculated that the medial loading is a little greater. Following this pattern, the horse may toe-off over the middle of the foot, laterally or medially. But to date, typical loading patterns are not well established.

Sarah Jane Hobbs, a researcher in equine biomechanics at the University of Central Lancashire, and Sandra Nau­welaerts, a biologist from the Uni­versity of Antwerp, wanted to evaluate whether a classic loading pattern exists in equine locomotion. When working with Hall Of Fame research vet Willem Back and colleagues at Utrecht University, the team became more interested to know whether loading patterns were different between left and right front feet in uneven footed horses.

“Our goal was to determine whether in fact you would expect to see differences in function attributable to unevenness,” Hobbs says.

Hobbs presented the findings from this study at the 2017…

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Katie navarra

Katie Navarra

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer who draws from her experiences owning and showing horses, and inter­viewing the industry’s leading pro­fessionals.

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