Determining Objective Parameters to Assess Gait Quality in Franches-Montagnes Horses for Ground Coverage and Over-Tracking - Part 2: At Trot
In gait quality assessments of horses, stride length (SL) is visually associated with spectacular movements of the front limbs, and described as ground coverage, while the movement of the hind limb under the body is supposedly essential to a longer over-tracking distance (OTD). To identify movement patterns with strong associations to SL and OTD, limb and body kinematics of 24 Franches-Montagnes (FM) stallions were measured with 3D optical motion capture (OMC) on a treadmill during an
... l speed test at trot (3.3-6.5 m/s). These measurements were correlated to the scores of ground coverage and over-tracking from six breeding experts. The amount of explained variance of parameters on SL and OTD were estimated using linear mixed-effect models in two models: a full model with all parameters measurable with OMC, and a reduced model with a subset of parameters measurable with inertial measurement units (IMUs). The front limb stance duration (16%) and OTD (7%) measured with OMC, or the OMC parameters front limb stance duration (24%) and suspension duration (14%) measurable with IMUs explained most variance in SL. However, four of six breeding experts were also significantly correlated (r>|0.41|) to front limb protraction angle. OTD variance was explained with OMC parameters suspension duration (10%) and hind limb contralateral pro-retraction angles (9%) or IMU-measurable parameters suspension duration (20%) and maximal pelvis pitch (5%). Four experts' scores for over-tracking were correlated to suspension duration. These results underscore the need for precise definitions of gait quality traits.