RESEARCH

The Equiband Pro® System improves gait symmetry in horses at the trot

Gait symmetry analysis is a useful technique to quantify lameness in horses, and to provide benchmark data to monitor efficacy of treatment program. For this experiment, we chose to use the Equestic SaddleClip, as this device provides reliable, comprehensive, effortless, and non-invasive data acquisition. The device is commercially available to horse owners and practitioners and can be used to monitor training or rehabilitation progress of individual horses.

In this study, the Equiband Pro System was shown to significantly improve symmetry of landing forces in horses trotting on the lunge.

Sample landing force symmetry output from the Equestic SaddleClip mobile App. The horse on the left has a 21% difference in landing forces between the left and right diagonals – the right diagonal limbs (dark green) land with more force than the left diagonal limbs (light green). The horse depicted on the right has nearly symmetrical landing forces, with both diagonal force peaks overlapping.

Animals

Six (6) horses (ages 2-23 years, height 15.0-17.2 hands) were randomly assigned to one of the two crossover groups. The breeds represented were American Quarter Horse (n=5) and Dutch Warmblood (n=1). All horses were in regular training appropriate for their age/level for performance at local or regional hunter under saddle (on the flat) or western pleasure shows. All horses were presumed sound by their owners for their level of work and discipline.

Experimental design

This study was carried out via a repeated measures/crossover design as seen below. The horses were randomly assigned prior to the study into one of two groups: Group 1 worked without the Equiband Pro System (Equicore Concepts, LLC, Michigan, USA) for the first half of the study, and the System (abdominal and hindquarter bands) was attached for the second half. Group 2 worked in the Equiband Pro System for the first half of the study, and the bands were removed for the second half.

  • The Equestic SaddleClip (Smart Horse Technology BV, Sint Anthonis, Netherlands) was placed on the left saddle flap, as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Abdominal and hindquarter Equiband Pro bands were fitted for each horse prior to the study by measuring the horse from buckle-to-buckle of the Equiband Pro saddle pad. Band length was determined by multiplying this distance by 0.67 as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Trot work was performed on a 15-meter circle on the lunge by the horse’s regular handler.

Landing force symmetry was significantly improved (p ≤ 0.05) in horses while wearing the Equiband Pro System, with greater symmetrical forces when comparing the diagonal pairs (Figure 1a). Push-off force symmetry, Rhythm symmetry, and Impulsion were improved in horses with the Equiband Pro System, however, this difference was not significant (Figures 1b, 1c, & 1d).

Figure 1: Differences in (A) Landing Force Symmetry (B) Push-off Force Symmetry (C) Timing (Rhythm) Symmetry and (D) Impulsion in horses with and without the Equiband Pro System. * indicates p ≤ 0.05, data labels on bars indicate group means.

 Conclusions

The change in gait symmetry indicates that the Equiband Pro system has an immediate effect on muscular adaptation.  A previous study showed that gait symmetry was improved in horses following a 4-week period where the only modification to the training program was handwalking with the Equiband Pro System. Together with our data, this suggests that training with the Equiband Pro System immediately affects gait patterns, and that muscular adaptations can continue to be observed without the System after long-term use.

Appropriate exercise with the Equiband Pro System may help promote return to function after compensatory movement patterns or stall rest by improving core strength and spinal stability (as previously demonstrated). Nevertheless, individual results are expected, so it is recommended the System be used under veterinary guidance.

Citation: Zarski LM, et al., The Equiband Pro System improves gait symmetry in horses at the trot. 2024. agriRxiv, doi:10.31220/agriRxiv.2024.00238