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Eighteen riding-school horses of similar performance and fitness levels, comprising six mares and 12 geldings (mean age ± SD 11 ± 3.84 years) were divided into three matched groups according to conformation, breed type and age.
Stretches were applied to all limbs and were performed by one researcher who was a qualified equine body worker. All subjects were warmed up for 10 min on a horse walker (5 min in each direction) prior to the
regime (all passive techniques) consisted of a limb relaxation technique and specific forelimb and hindlimb stretches as recommended by Pattillo (2005)
. The forelimb stretches were modified girth stretch, full girth stretch, leg flexor lift and triceps release. The hindlimb stretches comprised hamstring stretch, farrier stretch, stifle and hip flexor stretch and lateral quad stretch. The stretches were applied twice and held for 10 s initially and then for a further 20 s. The control subjects had approximately 10 min of human contact time daily, to ensure that all groups had the same amount of human intervention; this consisted of brushing the body and picking up the hooves. All subjects were on a similar exercise and management routine and were stabled at the same location. One veterinarian examined all horses before the trial began to ensure physical soundness and general health.
Measurements of stride length (SL) and range of motion (ROM) in
were obtained using video analysis prior to the treatment (week 0) and every 2 weeks during the 8-week treatment regime. The joints examined were the shoulder, elbow, carpus, fore fetlock, hip, stifle, hock and hind fetlock. An experienced researcher applied skin markers to the appropriate anatomical locations (Fig. 1
) for measurement of these joints (following the method described in Clayton and Schamhardt, 2001
H.M. Clayton and H.C. Schamhardt, Measurement techniques for gait analysis. In: W. Back and H.M. Clayton, Editors, Equine Locomotion
, W.B. Saunders, London (2001).Clayton and Schamhardt, 2001
Here are those markers: http://www.sciencedirect.com/cache/M...=dGLbVzW-zSkWA
Horses were videoed being trotted-up in-hand by the same experienced handler at a consistent speed for each horse. Speeds were calculated using computer software and analysed to ensure that there was no significant difference between groups.