Electromyographic and Kinematic Comparison of the Leading and Trailing Fore- and Hindlimbs of Horses during Canter

St George, Lindsay Blair orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5531-1207, Clayton, Hilary M., Sinclair, Jonathan Kenneth orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2231-3732, Richards, James orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4004-3115, Roy, Serge and Hobbs, Sarah Jane orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-1552-8647 (2023) Electromyographic and Kinematic Comparison of the Leading and Trailing Fore- and Hindlimbs of Horses during Canter. Animals, 13 (11).

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani13111755


This study compared muscle activity and movement between the leading (Ld) and trailing (Tr) fore- (F) and hindlimbs (H) of horses cantering overground. Three-dimensional kinematic and surface electromyography (sEMG) data were collected from right triceps brachii, biceps femoris, middle gluteal, and splenius from 10 ridden horses during straight left- and right-lead canter. Statistical parametric mapping evaluated between-limb (LdF vs. TrF, LdH vs. TrH) differences in time- and amplitude-normalized sEMG and joint angle–time waveforms over the stride. Linear mixed models evaluated between-limb differences in discrete sEMG activation timings, average rectified values (ARV), and spatio-temporal kinematics. Significantly greater gluteal ARV and activity duration facilitated greater limb retraction, hip extension, and stifle flexion (p < 0.05) in the TrH during stance. Earlier splenius activation during the LdF movement cycle (p < 0.05), reflected bilateral activation during TrF/LdH diagonal stance, contributing to body pitching mechanisms in canter. Limb muscles were generally quiescent during swing, where significantly greater LdF/H protraction was observed through greater elbow and hip flexion (p < 0.05), respectively. Altera-tions in muscle activation facilitate different timing and movement cycles of the leading and trailing limbs, which justifies equal training on both canter leads to develop symmetry in mus-cular strength, enhance athletic performance, and mitigate overuse injury risks.

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