Muscle Function and Kinematics during Submaximal Equine Jumping: What Can Objective Outcomes Tell Us about Athletic Performance Indicators?
ABSTRACT: Selection and training practices for jumping horses have not yet been validated using objective performance analyses. This study aimed to quantify the differences and relationships between movement and muscle activation strategies in horses with varying jump technique to identify objective jumping performance indicators. Surface electromyography (sEMG) and three-dimensional kinematic data were collected from horses executing a submaximal jump. Kinematic variables were calculated based on equestrian-derived performance indicators relating to impulsion, engagement and joint articulation. Horses were grouped using an objective performance indicator-center of mass (CM) elevation during jump suspension (ZCM). Between-group differences in kinematic variables and muscle activation timings, calculated from sEMG data, were analyzed using one-way ANOVA. Statistical parametric mapping (SPM) evaluated between-group differences in time and amplitude-normalized sEMG waveforms. Relationships between movement and muscle activation were evaluated using Pearson correlation coefficients. Horses with the greatest ZCM displayed significantly (p < 0.05) shorter gluteal contractions at take-off, which were significantly correlated (p < 0.05) with a faster approach and more rapid hindlimb shortening and CM vertical displacement and velocity, as well as shorter hindlimb stance duration at take-off. Findings provide objective support for prioritizing equestrian-derived performance indicators related to the generation of engagement, impulsion and hindlimb muscle power when selecting or training jumping horses.
Project description:The aim of this study was to evaluate the genetic component of the locomotor jumping ability, via a wearable accelerometer sensor, and to estimate the genetic correlation with performance in competition, to introduce such criteria in selection schema. A sample of 1,056 young 3-year-old horses were equipped with a 3-dimensional accelerometer during a free jumping test, in regular breeding shows from 2015 to 2017. Seven variables were extracted from the dorso-ventral acceleration curve for the last three jumps over a double bar obstacle of 1.15 m for the front pole and 1.20 m for the back pole with a 1.20 m spread. Variables were the peaks of forelimbs, hindlimbs, and landing acceleration, the duration between peaks at take-off, the peak of forelimb acceleration and start of jump, jump duration and duration between the beginning of the impact of forelimbs and the peak at landing. During breeding shows, judges scored balance, strength, style, and reactivity for free jumping and jumping tests under saddle. Jumping competition results were recorded by logarithm of the sum of points earned in each competition. All horses in official competitions were included, i.e., 160,257 horses born in 1997 with a total of 649,491 annual performances. An animal mixed model with complete pedigree over four generations (353,236 horses) were used with fixed effects of jumping test location and date, morning/afternoon, gender, month of birth, rank of jump for accelerometric data, effect of year of competition, combined with age and gender for competition results. As a result, jump duration was the most heritable and repeatable for jump variables: h 2 = 0.16 (0.06), r = 0.52 (0.02), while accelerations were moderately heritable (h 2 = 0.05-0.09, r = 0.39-0.51). Judgement scores were heritable: 0.21 (0.07)-0.33 (0.09) and were highly correlated. Scores during free jumping were genetically correlated to jump duration: 0.71 (0.15)-0.88 (0.16). Both jump duration and judgement scores were genetically correlated to competition performance: 0.59 (0.13) for jump duration, from 0.60 (0.11) to 0.77 (0.12) for scores. Jump duration and judgement scores can be used as early selection criteria. The advantage of the accelerometric measurement is its objectivity and the ease of recording.
Project description:Hendra virus is a zoonotic paramyxovirus, which causes severe respiratory and neurological disease in horses and humans. Since 2012, the Hendra virus sub-unit G vaccine has been available for horse vaccination in Australia. Uptake of the vaccine has been limited and spill-over events of Hendra virus infection in horses continue to occur. We conducted an online, questionnaire-based cross-sectional study of 376 horse owners belonging to a variety of different equestrian clubs in Queensland, Australia, to identify risk factors for non-vaccination against Hendra virus. A total of 43.1% (N = 162) of horse owners indicated that they currently did not vaccinate against Hendra virus infection, while 56.9% (N = 214) currently vaccinated against Hendra virus infection. A total of 52 risk factors were evaluated relating to equestrian activities, horse management, perceived risk and severity of horse and human infection with Hendra virus, side effects of Hendra vaccination, other vaccinations conducted by horse owners and horse owners' attitudes towards veterinarians. The final multivariable logistics regression model identified the following risk factors associated with increased odds of non-vaccination against Hendra virus: 1) perceived low risk (compared to high) of Hendra virus infection to horses (considering the horse owners' location and management practices) or horse owners were unsure about the risk of infection, 2) perceived moderate severity (compared to very severe or severe) of Hendra virus infection in humans, 3) horse owners non-vaccination of their pets, 4) horse owners non-vaccination against strangles disease in horses, 5) handling of more than three horses per week (compared to one horse only) and 6) perceived attitude that veterinarians had a high motivation of making money from Hendra virus vaccination (compared to veterinarians having a low motivation of making money from Hendra virus vaccination). Horse owners were more likely to vaccinate against Hendra virus if horses were used for dressage, show jumping or eventing. The study also identified horse owners' concerns about side-effects and about the lack of evidence on vaccine efficacy.
Project description:Previous research has demonstrated large amounts of inter-subject variability in downward (unweighting & braking) phase strategies in the countermovement jump (CMJ). The purpose of this study was to characterize downward phase strategies and associated temporal, kinematic and kinetic CMJ variables. One hundred and seventy-eight NBA (National Basketball Association) players (23.6 ± 3.7 years, 200.3 ± 8.0 cm; 99.4 ± 11.7 kg; CMJ height 68.7 ± 7.4 cm) performed three maximal CMJs. Force plate and 3D motion capture data were integrated to obtain kinematic and kinetic outputs. Afterwards, athletes were split into clusters based on downward phase characteristics (k-means cluster analysis). Lower limb joint angular displacement (i.e., delta flexion) explained the highest portion of point variability (89.3%), and three clusters were recommended (Ball Hall Index). Delta flexion was significantly different between clusters and players were characterized as "stiff flexors", "hyper flexors", or "hip flexors". There were no significant differences in jump height between clusters (p > 0.05). Multiple regression analyses indicated that most of the jumping height variance was explained by the same four variables, (i.e., sum concentric relative force, knee extension velocity, knee extension acceleration, and height) regardless of the cluster (p < 0.05). However, each cluster had its own unique set of secondary predictor variables.
Project description:The equestrian sport horse Swedish Warmblood (SWB) originates from versatile cavalry horses. Most modern SWB breeders have specialized their breeding either towards show jumping or dressage disciplines. The aim of this study was to explore the genomic structure of SWB horses to evaluate the presence of genomic subpopulations, and to search for signatures of selection in subgroups of SWB with high or low breeding values (EBVs) for show jumping. We analyzed high density genotype information from 380 SWB horses born in the period 2010-2011, and used Principal Coordinates Analysis and Discriminant Analysis of Principal Components to detect population stratification. Fixation index and Cross Population Extended Haplotype Homozygosity scores were used to scan the genome for potential signatures of selection. In accordance with current breeding practice, this study highlights the development of two separate breed subpopulations with putative signatures of selection in eleven chromosomes. These regions involve genes with known function in, e.g., mentality, endogenous reward system, development of connective tissues and muscles, motor control, body growth and development. This study shows genetic divergence, due to specialization towards different disciplines in SWB horses. This latter evidence can be of interest for SWB and other horse studbooks encountering specialized breeding.
Project description:Detailed knowledge of how a rider's seating style and riding on a circle influences the movement symmetry of the horse's head and pelvis may aid rider and trainer in an early recognition of low grade lameness. Such knowledge is also important during both subjective and objective lameness evaluations in the ridden horse in a clinical setting. In this study, inertial sensors were used to assess how different rider seating styles may influence head and pelvic movement symmetry in horses trotting in a straight line and on the circle in both directions. A total of 26 horses were subjected to 15 different conditions at trot: three unridden conditions and 12 ridden conditions where the rider performed three different seating styles (rising trot, sitting trot and two point seat). Rising trot induced systematic changes in movement symmetry of the horses. The most prominent effect was decreased pelvic rise that occurred as the rider was actively rising up in the stirrups, thus creating a downward momentum counteracting the horses push off. This mimics a push off lameness in the hindlimb that is in stance when the rider sits down in the saddle during the rising trot. On the circle, the asymmetries induced by rising trot on the correct diagonal counteracted the circle induced asymmetries, rendering the horse more symmetrical. This finding offers an explanation to the equestrian tradition of rising on the 'correct diagonal.' In horses with small pre-existing movement asymmetries, the asymmetry induced by rising trot, as well as the circular track, attenuated or reduced the horse's baseline asymmetry, depending on the sitting diagonal and direction on the circle. A push off hindlimb lameness would be expected to increase when the rider sits during the lame hindlimb stance whereas an impact hindlimb lameness would be expected to decrease. These findings suggest that the rising trot may be useful for identifying the type of lameness during subjective lameness assessment of hindlimb lameness. This theory needs to be studied further in clinically lame horses.
Project description:The aim of this study was to compare the effects of short-term strength training with and without superimposed whole-body electromyostimulation (WB-EMS) on straight sprinting speed (SSS), change of direction speed (CODS), vertical and horizontal jumping, as well as on strength and power in physically active females. Twenty-two active female participants (<i>n</i> = 22; mean ± SD: age: 20.5 ± 2.3 years; height: 171.9 ± 5.5 cm; body mass: 64.0 ± 8.2 kg; strength training experience 5.1 ± 3.6 years) were randomly assigned to two groups: strength training (S) or strength training with superimposed WB-EMS (S+E). Both groups trained twice a week over a period of 4 weeks and differed in the application of free weights or WB-EMS during four strength (e.g., split squats, glute-ham raises) and five sprinting and jumping exercises (e.g., side and box jumps, skippings). The WB-EMS impulse intensity was adjusted to 70% of individual maximal sustainable pain. SSS was tested <i>via</i> 30-m sprinting, CODS by a T-run, vertical and horizontal jumping using four different jump tests at pre-, post-, and retests. Maximal strength (F<sub>max</sub>) and power (P<sub>max</sub>) testing procedures were conducted on the Leg Press (LP), Leg Extension (LE), and Leg Curl (LC) machine. Significant time × group interaction effects revealed significant decreases of contact time of the Drop Jump and split time of CODS (<i>p</i> ? 0.043; ? p 2 = 0.15-0.25) for S (? 11.6%) compared to S+E (? 5.7%). Significant time effects (<i>p</i> < 0.024; ? p 2 = 0.17-0.57) were observed in both groups for SSS (S+E: ?6.3%; S: ?8.0%) and CODS (S+E: ?1.8%; S: ?2.0%) at retest, for jump test performances (S+E: ?13.2%; S: ?9.2%) as well as F<sub>max</sub> and P<sub>max</sub> for LE (S+E: ?13.5%; S: ?13.3%) and LC (S+E: ?18.2%; S: ?26.7%) at post- and retests. The findings of this study indicate comparable effects of short-term strength training with and without superimposed WB-EMS on physical fitness in physically active females. Therefore, WB-EMS training could serve as a reasonable but not superior alternative to classic training regimes in female exercisers.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The main criteria for lameness assessment in horses are head movement for forelimb lameness and pelvic movement for hindlimb lameness. However, compensatory head nod in horses with primary hindlimb lameness is a well-known phenomenon. This compensatory head nod movement can be easily misinterpreted as a sign of primary ipsilateral forelimb lameness. Therefore, discriminating compensatory asymmetries from primary directly pain-related movement asymmetries is a prerequisite for successful lameness assessment. OBJECTIVES:To investigate the association between head, withers and pelvis movement asymmetry in horses with induced forelimb and hindlimb lameness. STUDY DESIGN:Experimental study. METHODS:In 10 clinically sound Warmblood riding horses, forelimb and hindlimb lameness were induced using a sole pressure model. The horses were then trotted on a treadmill. Three-dimensional optical motion capture was used to collect kinematic data from reflective markers attached to the poll, withers and tubera sacrale. The magnitude and side (left or right) of the following symmetry parameters, vertical difference in minimum position, maximum position and range-up were calculated for head, withers, and pelvis. Mixed models were used to analyse data from induced forelimb and hindlimb lameness. RESULTS:For each mm increase in pelvic asymmetry in response to hindlimb lameness induction, withers movement asymmetry increased by 0.35-0.55 mm, but towards the contralateral side. In induced forelimb lameness, for each mm increase in head movement asymmetry, withers movement asymmetry increased by 0.05-0.10 mm, in agreement with the head movement asymmetry direction, both indicating lameness in the induced forelimb. MAIN LIMITATIONS:Results must be confirmed in clinically lame horses trotting overground. CONCLUSIONS:The vertical asymmetry pattern of the withers discriminated a head nod associated with true forelimb lameness from the compensatory head movement asymmetry caused by primary hindlimb lameness. Measuring movement symmetry of the withers may, thus, aid in determining primary lameness location.
Project description:Stroke survivors suffer from persistent disability, as well as severe sensorimotor and cognitive deficits. The preclinical assessment of such deficits is important for the development of novel interventions and therapeutics.The aim of this study was to develop a quantitative behavioral measure of hindlimb functionality in rodents, which could be used to assess deficits after a neural injury, such as stroke. Here we introduce a test to measure long jump behavior in mice.Using this test we first showed that while male and female mice exhibited no differences in jump success rate, the female mice showed lower baseline jumping latencies. Next we demonstrated that the induction of a cerebral stroke via middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) for 45min did not affect the jump success rate in either group; however, it did significantly increase jump latencies in both male and female mice. Finally, we used therapeutic interventions to explore mechanisms that may be involved in producing this increase in jump latency by administering the anti-depressant fluoxetine prior to the long jump assay, and also tested for potential changes in anxiety levels after stroke.Other methods to assess hindlimb functionality are not specific, because they measure behaviors that rely not only on hindlimbs, but also on forelimbs and tail.This study introduces a novel assay that can be used to measure a stroke induced behavioral deficit with great sensitivity, and raises interesting questions about potential mechanisms regulating this effect.
Project description:Noseband tightness is difficult to assess in horses participating in equestrian sports such as dressage, show jumping and three-day-eventing. There is growing concern that nosebands are commonly tightened to such an extent as to restrict normal equine behaviour and possibly cause injury. In the absence of a clear agreed definition of noseband tightness, a simple model of the equine nose-noseband interface environment was developed in order to guide further studies in this area. The normal force component of the noseband tensile force was identified as the key contributor to sub-noseband tissue compression. The model was used to inform the design of a digital tightness gauge which could reliably measure the normal force component of the noseband tensile force. A digital tightness gauge was developed to measure this parameter under nosebands fitted to bridled horses. Results are presented for field tests using two prototype designs. Prototype version three was used in field trial 1 (n = 15, frontal nasal plane sub-noseband site). Results of this trial were used to develop an ergonomically designed prototype, version 4, which was tested in a second field trial (n = 12, frontal nasal plane and lateral sub-noseband site). Nosebands were set to three tightness settings in each trial as judged by a single rater using an International Society for Equitation Science (ISES) taper gauge. Normal forces in the range 7-95 N were recorded at the frontal nasal plane while a lower range 1-28 N was found at the lateral site for the taper gauge range used in the trials. The digital tightness gauge was found to be simple to use, reliable, and safe and its use did not agitate the animals in any discernable way. A simple six point tightness scale is suggested to aid regulation implementation and the control of noseband tightness using normal force measurement as the objective tightness discriminant.
Project description:Single-leg squat (SLS) is a functional test visually rated by clinicians for assessing lower limb function as a preventive injury strategy. SLS clinical rating is a qualitative evaluation and it does not count objective outcomes as kinematics data and surface electromyography (sEMG) assessment. Based on the SLS rating, the aims of this study were (i) to determine the clinical rating agreement among six raters and (ii) to assess kinematic and sEMG predictors of good SLS performance in physically and non-physically active individuals.Seventy-two healthy adults, divided in physically active and non-physically active groups, performed three SLSs on their dominant leg. Clinical ratings, kinematic data and sEMG were acquired. By using a validated clinical scale, six expert clinicians rated each SLS watching a video at three different time points. Intra and inter-rater agreement of clinical ratings were undertaken and a binary logistic regression analysis was used to determine kinematic and sEMG as predictors of SLS performance.The weighted kappa coefficient for intra-rater reliability within each rater ranged between moderate and almost perfect agreement (0.55-0.85) whereas the weighted kappa coefficient for inter-rater reliability among raters was fair (0.34, time point 0; 0.31, time point 1; 0.30, time point 2). SLS analyses of physically active compared to non-physically active group showed a statistically significant difference in knee flexion and hip flexion (p = 0.041 and p = 0.023 respectively) and no difference in clinical ratings (p = 0.081). Greater knee flexion can predict the good SLS performance taking into account the belonging group (p = 0.019).Physically active individuals seemed to be at less risk to perform a non-good SLS and they had greater knee and hip flexions kinematics than non-physically active individuals. Knee flexion can predict the SLS performance quality therefore a greater knee flexion might also be considered a protective element from injuries.ClinicalTrials.gov identifier (trial has been registred retrospectively: NCT03203083. Date registration: June 21, 2017.