Girth design in galloping racehorses influences limb kinematics, under‐girth pressures and force distribution

Rachel C. Murray, Vanessa Fairfax, M Fisher, T. Pfau, Russell Mackechnie-Guire

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Background: In sport horses at trot, girth design affects pressure distribution and limb kinematics. For racehorses at gallop, girth alterations influenced run-time to fatigue, but mechanisms of horse/girth interaction at gallop have not been determined and could potentially have a significant impact on racehorse health and performance. Hypothesis: Reducing under-girth pressures influences movement.

Objectives: To compare standard racing girth design (girth S) to a specially designed pressure-relieving girth (girth F) for: 1) Under-girth pressure/force at gallop on a treadmill; 2) limb kinematics over-ground.

Study design: Cross-over.

Methods: Eight 3-year-old racehorses in race-training and habituated to treadmill-use wore an identical race saddle with girth S or F in treadmill (2% incline) and over-ground training sessions galloping at 10 m/s. Treadmill: a centrally-positioned pressure mat recorded data for 30 s at gallop to determine location, timing in the stride and magnitude of peak pressures/forces. Over-ground: nine skin markers were positioned on horses’ left/right sides for limb kinematics at gallop. Eight high-speed cameras (240 fps, 20 m from track) simultaneously captured data from left/right sides, quantifying limb kinematics over three motion-cycles. For each session, girth length and height of attachment was standardised for even tension. Data were compared between girth type (paired t-test P
Results: Treadmill: in gallop repeatable peak girth pressures occurred during midstance of the trailing limb, located caudal to the olecranon, and were higher than previously detected at trot. Girth F resulted in 55% lower force (P = 0.01) and 54% lower peak pressure (P
Main limitations: Kinetics/kinematics not synchronised.

Conclusions: Altering girth design reduces peak pressure/force under the girth and affects limb kinematics when galloping, potentially improving performance and health.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventBritish Equine Veterinary Association Congress 2021
- , United Kingdom
Duration: 4 Sept 20217 Sept 2021


ConferenceBritish Equine Veterinary Association Congress 2021
Abbreviated titleBEVA2021
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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