Quantitative gait analysis has revealed that a large proportion of horses in training, perceived as free from lameness by their owners, show movement asymmetries of equal magnitude to horses with mild clinical lameness. Whether these movement asymmetries are related to orthopaedic pain and/or pathology has yet to be further investigated. Therefore, the objective of this study was to determine whether movement asymmetries in riding horses in training are affected by anti-inflammatory treatment with meloxicam.
In a crossover design, horses were treated with meloxicam or placebo for four days respectively, with a 14–16 day washout period between treatments. Objective movement analysis utilising body mounted accelerometers was performed on a hard and a soft surface before and on day four of each treatment.
A trial mean was calculated for the differences between the two vertical displacement minima and maxima of head (HDmin, HDmax) and pelvis (PDmin, PDmax) per stride. Horses (n = 66) with trial mean asymmetries greater than 6 mm for HDmin or HDmax, or more than 3 mm for PDmin or PDmax, at baseline were included. The difference before and after each treatment in the measured movement asymmetry was assessed with linear mixed models.
Treatment with meloxicam did not significantly affect the movement asymmetry in any of the models applied (all p>0.30). These results raise new questions: are the movement asymmetries in riding horses in training simply expressions of biological variation or are they related to pain/dysfunction that is non-responsive to meloxicam treatment?
Link to the publication
Persson-Sjodin E, Hernlund E, Pfau T, Haubro Andersen P, Holm Forsström K, Rhodin M (2019) Effect of meloxicam treatment on movement asymmetry in riding horses in training. PLoS ONE, 14(8): e0221117