Main content area

Water treadmill exercise reduces equine limb segmental accelerations and increases shock attenuation

Greco-Otto, Persephone, Baggaley, Michael, Edwards, W. B., Léguillette, Renaud
BMC veterinary research 2019 v.15 no.1 pp. 329
accelerometers, carpus, exercise, exercise equipment, hooves, horses, models, stifle
BACKGROUND: Equine water treadmills (WTs) are growing in popularity because they are believed to allow for high resistance, low impact exercise. However, little is known about the effect of water height on limb loading. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of water height and speed on segmental acceleration and impact attenuation during WT exercise in horses. Three uniaxial accelerometers (sampling rate: 2500 Hz) were secured on the left forelimb (hoof, mid-cannon, mid-radius). Horses walked at two speeds (S1: 0.83 m/s, S2: 1.39 m/s) and three water heights (mid-cannon, carpus, stifle), with a dry WT control. Peak acceleration of each segment was averaged over five strides, attenuation was calculated, and stride frequency was estimated by the time between successive hoof contacts. Linear mixed effects models were used to examine the effects of water height, speed, and accelerometer location on peak acceleration, attenuation and stride frequency (p < 0.05). RESULTS: Peak acceleration at all locations was lower with water of any height compared to the dry control (p < 0.0001). Acceleration was reduced with water at the height of the stifle compared to mid-cannon water height (p = 0.02). Water at the height of the stifle attenuated more impact than water at the height of the cannon (p = 0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Water immersion during treadmill exercise reduced segmental accelerations and increased attenuation in horses. WT exercise may be beneficial in the rehabilitation of lower limb injuries in horses.