The effect of walking speed during water treadmill exercise on pelvic kinematics in racehorses

  • Nankervis, K. (Speaker)
  • Deckers, I. (Speaker)
  • C A Tranquillle (Speaker)
  • Jack B. Tracey (Speaker)
  • R Newton (Speaker)
  • Rachel C. Murray (Speaker)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation at Conference


There is little knowledge about the biomechanical responses of horses to speed at different water depths on the water treadmill (WT). This study aimed to determine whether belt speed was associated with alterations in equine pelvic kinematics at walk in four water depths. Six Thoroughbreds (5.8±0.4 yrs; 166.8±1.8 cm) non-lame and in regular WT exercise walked on the WT at 2.8/4.3/5.5/6.0 kph at dry, fetlock and carpal water depths. Inertial-motion-sensors on the left/right tuber coxae were used to measure left/ right pelvic vertical displacement (mm). Bivariable mixed effects linear regression analyses were used to determine the relationship between pelvic dorsoventral displacement and belt speed/water depth. Tests at 6.0 kph in carpal depth water and for two horses in fetlock depth water were abandoned at onset in response to veterinary monitoring of the horses’ behavioural and gait alterations at this speed. At speeds 2.8, 4.3, 5.5 and 6.0 km/h, LTC/RTC dorsoventral displacements for all water depths pooled increased significantly (P<0.0001/P<0.0001) from 37±18/41±22 mm, 83±20/90±23 mm, 107±17/116±20 mm and 112±18/117±18 mm respectively. LTC/RTC dorsoventral movement significantly increased when walking in fetlock depth water (P<0.0001/P<0.0001) and carpal depth water compared to dry (P<0.0001/P<0.0001) when all speeds were pooled. For all water depths pooled, pelvic dorsoventral displacements plateaued between 5.5 and 6 km/h, suggesting that at speeds ≥5.5 km/h, horses could be limited in their ability to lift the distal limb above the water, even in low water. In practice, this could be avoided by either limiting belt speed within a WT session, or decreasing belt speed in response to water depth increases.
Period28 Jun 2022
Event titleInternational Conference on Equine Exercise Physiology
Event typeConference
LocationUppsala, SwedenShow on map