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Jobusch, Michelle, 2022. Motion asymmetry in Swedish riding school horses : association to management factors. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (until 231231)



Orthopedic disorders and injuries have a huge impact on horses, globally as well as in Sweden, and
is a common reason for euthanasia in equine veterinary practice. Lameness is the most common sign
of orthopedic pain and does not only come with welfare issues but also huge economic consequences. Riding school horses represent an important part of the Swedish horse industry, and 10 700
horses were active in Swedish riding schools in 2019. Previous studies found differences in
orthopedic health status between riding schools, which were suggested to be associated with the
riding schools’ management and individual horse factors. The purpose of this master´s thesis is to
further describe motion asymmetry (by objective evaluation), management factors, and horse factors
in Swedish riding school horses.
Four of the 14 contacted riding schools participated in the current study, with a total of 76 horses.
Management and horse factors were investigated by questionnaires answered by the riding school
managers. Motion symmetry was objectively measured with the markerless smartphone app Sleip
AI, which uses artificial neural networks to identify vertical motion asymmetry. The horses were
recorded trotting in-hand in a straight line on packed dirt 30 meters two times back and forth
(approximately 120 meters in total). Each horse was measured on two or three different occasions,
with 7-8 days in between. Lameness metrics; HDmin, HDmax, PDmin, and PDmax were extracted
from each horse’s asymmetry measurement. A representation of the horse’s total amount of motion
asymmetry was calculated by adding these four values together from each measurement occasion
and then a mean value from all measurement occasions was calculated. The mean total asymmetry
was used in descriptive statistics and for hypothesis testing. A horse was defined as having a relevant
total motion asymmetry when the value was >0.75. This was based on clinical experience.
Hypothesis testing was performed by grouping horses based on age, gender, number or hours of
riding lessons per week, months since the acquisition, previous lameness, summer rest, and type of
activity, and by using a double-sided heteroscedastic t-test to investigate differences in total motion
asymmetry between groups. The level of significance was set to p< 0.05.
Results showed that in the four riding schools the total motion asymmetry ranged from 0.30 to 2.20,
and 50 of the 76 horses (66%) were considered to have relevant (>0.75) motion asymmetry. A
significant difference in total motion asymmetry was found between horses in groups based on the
amount of summer rest in one riding school (p=0.004), the number of riding lessons per week
(p=0.017 and p=0.034), and previous lameness (p=0.02) for all riding schools together. No
significant difference in total motion asymmetry was seen between horses in groups which were
based on hours of riding school lessons, type of activity, age, gender, breed, and time since
acquisition. But through descriptive statistics, (non-significant) differences in total motion
asymmetry within the studied horse sample were seen between subgroups based on the type of
activity, age, and time since acquisition. Further, variance in the lameness metrics HDmin, HDmax,
PDmin, and PDmax was observed (but not further investigated) between measurement occasions.
Some horses were observed to repeatedly show asymmetry from the same limb, while in others the
origin of the asymmetry differed between the measurement occasions.
The results from this study indicate that differences in riding school horses’ motion asymmetry can
be associated with management and horse factors. The results support that specific attention should
be given to the amount of summer rest, the number of riding lessons per week, and previous lameness, but likely other management- and horse factors can be of importance too. This agrees with
previous literature concerning riding school horses’ orthopedic health status in Sweden. With that
being said, additional studies are needed in this field to draw robust conclusions. Further studies
should include larger study material and follow the horses' motion symmetry over a longer period
of time. Also, more management and horse factors that possibly can affect the horses' motion
symmetry should be included.

Main title:Motion asymmetry in Swedish riding school horses
Subtitle:association to management factors
Authors:Jobusch, Michelle
Supervisor:Hernlund, Elin
Examiner:Rhodin, Marie
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2022
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VY002 Veterinary Medicine Programme 330 HEC
Supervising department:(VH) > Dept. of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (until 231231)
Keywords:orthopaedic Health, lameness, movement symmetry, riding school horses, mobile phone application, management factors, horse factors
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Animal husbandry
Deposited On:22 Feb 2022 09:31
Metadata Last Modified:01 Mar 2022 12:32

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