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Wild Kaimanawa horse photos courtesy of Heike Erhlenbach

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Hoofcare Organisation Of  New Zealand Inc.

Biomechanics Course with Robyn Larson-Shelton from Equine Miracle 

 July 2018

Top five points from HOOFNZ members lecture notes 

Carol

  • Identifying the bony points and looking at these under movement from the front, back and side.
  • Seeing the sand kick forward from toe first landings
  • The horse is made up of 205 bones.
  • How tiring floating is for horses, 3 hours floating is equivalent to 3 hours walking.
  • Floating boots trap the heat in on your horses legs which is often going home after competing and the legs have already done heaps of work and really need cooling not heating.

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Katie

  • If bone is damaged then blood cell problems may be apparent.
  • There must be 2 finger widths between first vertebra and mandible to allow "on the bit ".
  • Kentucky Equine Research researcher the isometric muscle usage of horses floated or trucked. 3 hours floating would equal 3 hours of walking.
  • Bones are levers.  Soft tissue is pulleys (as per SMD).
  • Always look for straightness in the sternum.

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Chelsea

  • Consider floating your horse as being equivalent in energy use as walking, so if it takes you 3 hours to arrive at a show/ clinic imagine your horse has walked for 3 hours to get there.
  • 100% of ridden horses will develop kissing spine and arthritic elbows.
  • No horse is perfect conformation. We need to find their flaws and help train them to be the strongest they can, accept our horse's physical limitations in regards to whatever area of riding we are interested in, and take care of them through strength training and stretching, bodywork, dental, not being overweight (including the rider) and correct fitting tack.
  • Every ridden horse should receive a joint supplement.
  • Soft tissue injuries tend to show up on soft ground, bony injuries on hard ground

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Jane C

Thanks so much for organising the day - was fascinating and very useful.

My 5 things:

  • Number and structure of bones vary in the skeleton much more than just number of vertebrae
  • Muscle 'fragments' can be found in legs below hocks and knees
  • Gelding can delay growth plate closure meaning taller horses and possibly straighter hind limbs
  • How to assess a horse in movement - - what to look at and where things might be amiss - e.g. poll movement and elbow arthritis
  • How to assess a horse regarding the angles that are close to ideal.

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Phoebe

  • I found the discussion around growth plate closure enlightening and the table provided in the manual is a great reference (although I understand it is a guideline only as health/injury etc can affect these timelines) - I am often asked questions about what age horses should be started at etc and it's all very good and well me saying the later the better for X, Y and Z reasons but it's even more powerful with this table as a handy reference to back up what I'm saying (and so I don't have to memorise absolutely every plate closure timeline)!
  • Understanding the degree of joint variations and how this ties in with the labyrinth of attachments to them that makes movement as well as stillness and everything in between possible.
  • Leading on from this as well is seeing how every complex component plays a vital role and one malfunction or abnormality has a large domino affect within the horses body.
  • I think when it comes to riding horses we all know that it isn't good for them but we like to console ourselves with the belief that the exercise they gain from being ridden outweighs the cons, I think one thing that was really highlighted for me is that this really is wishful thinking sadly.
  • And finally the thing I found really useful was putting us in horses "shoes" by pretending to be lame/pigeon toed/unbalanced horses trotting around in the sand. I woke up the next morning with a swollen right ankle and was unable to walk without a limp all day and was still sore the day after as well! I really think this is an exercise EVERYONE who has anything to do with horses should have to do!

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 Patricia

  • Transitional rib abnormalities
  • Fractured ribs in foals
  • That Robyn mentions 100% issues for horses that have raced.
  • So much more to look for in walk and trot, for lameness assessment
  • Scars go looking for scars – need to research

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Jane P

  • Using body/ bony alignment points very useful for determining sections of unevenness across different planes / gives your eye solid points of focus
  • A horse that has "static" upper body/top line movement is often protecting another area that is sore
  • Using uphill and downhill gradients for gait analysis are very useful when identify joint degeneration/pain
  • Never underestimate the affect that poor saddle fit/ rider balance/ incorrect trimming/old and existing injuries ........... can negatively impact on horses movement and how much pain some horses are capable of enduring while still being ridden.
  • Bio mechanics are set from birth but have the capacity for some manipulation while bones are still formulating

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Kirsten

  • Learning about the Sacroiliac joint and how it has a huge impact on the speed and power of the horse if injured.
  • Growth Plates with the large variations of ages and learning the order of closure
  • Muscles working in pairs (lengthening and contracting)
  • Inactivity and Confinement issues. Creating some form of mobility
  • Angles of conformation

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Fiona

  • Growth Plate Closure - the varying ages that each bone reaches maturity
  • The three types of joints - synovial, cartilaginous and fibrous
  • Confirmation clues - looking for what is good
  • Gait assessment - what to look for when standing at different positions around the horse
  • Equine skeleton - breakdown of the bones and the 'bony landmarks'  high lighting them in chalk for identification

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Sandy

  • Bony injuries show up best on hard surfaces, soft tissue injuries best on soft surfaces.
  • Poll should perform a fig 8, in a sound horse at the walk
  • Injuries to the sternum are common and can cause problems to the horse, palpate for muscle tears and straightness.
  • When examining for lameness, keep the horse moving, problems often become more apparent, horses often become more sore.

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Sam

  • I liked the difference between parts of the spine
  • Saddle fit effects
  • Hip/stifle/hock relations
  • How common elbow arthritis is
  • The lameness exams.

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Nikki

  • Identifying bony landmarks on the horse
  • Observing gait abnormalities and what they may mean
  • Different ways to conduct a lameness exam to high light different issues e.g. using hill
  • Discussion on assessing conformation
  • Anatomy/physiology is essential part

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Jenny

  • The poll should make a figure 8 type movement at the walk
  • There are 80 bones in the legs
  • There can be small bits of muscle below the knee that may or may not attach to something
  • 4 weeks of inactivity can cause capillaries that supply muscle fibres to disappear from lack of use. In confinement, due to immobility, muscles that move the patella can atrophy causing locking stifle (there are 14 ligaments in the stifle area) which leads to joint inflammation and loss of synovial fluid adding more pain.
  • The head should go back and forth in the gallop. Head up and down is likely sacroiliac pain.

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Brittany

  • The chalk marks on important bony landmarks helped to locate them when the horse is in motion on different surfaces and terrain, to help an untrained eye.
  • Glad that a large variety of horses were used and all helped identify different lameness shown in the horses and how certain lameness appear in different breeds, sizes, and ages.
  • Having the saddles helped a lot as they were intentionally incorrectly fitted and it showed the correlation of a saddle fit and the horses movement. It was surprising how drastically it affected the horses movement even without the girth tight or a rider on.
  • I do wish there were follow up classes within the year and not just classes that were a few levels ahead within New Zealand.
  • Good learning chunks throughout the day. With breaks within and moving from the theory and practical lessons. It stopped the course from feeling stagnant and allowed a change of pace so the information can sink in. Actually I was surprised how quickly the day went, it did not drag on and kept my interest throughout the day.