The Effect of Stretching Regimes on Stride Length and Range of Motion of the Equine Trot

Rose, Natasha (2008) The Effect of Stretching Regimes on Stride Length and Range of Motion of the Equine Trot. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Kinematic studies quantifying the various influences on equine locomotion are widespread, however research on the effects of stretching on equine movement is limited and lacks in comparison to human medicine. Equine trainers should be aiming to facilitate movement that is natural, aesthetic and rewarding for the horse and rider. Injury prevention is also critical for equine welfare and career longevity. The use of stretching regimes as part of manual therapy is becoming a widespread procedure within the performance horse industry. This is most likely due to extrapolation of the positive findings from human research. The aim of the investigation was to quantify the effects of two eight-week stretching regimes on stride length (SL) and range of motion (ROM) in the equine trot. Eighteen horses were divided into three matched groups according to age, conformation and breed. The groups were assigned to a 6-day stretching regime (6DSR), 3-day stretching regime (3DSR) and a control, no stretching regime (NSR). Baseline measurements of SL and ROM in trot (in hand) were obtained prior to treatment using two-dimensional video analysis. The two stretching regimes were applied for eight weeks. SL and ROM data were collected at weeks 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10 and 11 for the trot in hand. Subjects were analysed in ridden extended trot at week 8 and 16. The results were analysed by a two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). There were no significant effects of stretching on the in hand or ridden SL (P>0.05). Some significant differences were found in joint ROM between the 6DSR, 305R and NSR, the 6DSR generally produced lower ROM than the other two treatments. In conclusion SL was not altered by the two eight-week stretch regimes, however the 3DSR was more beneficial than the 6DSR on increasing joint R.OM. Further research is required to investigate whether the ROM differences are due to stretch hold times and frequencies.

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