HILTON HEAD, SCThe coordination of two systems are key for any horse to walk, trot, gallop or win a race. The first are the lower limbs, which allow the animal to move along on a "spring-like" tendon. The second is a complicated respiratory system, which allows a horse to take in one breadth for every stride they make while racing. For more than a decade a team of researchers has been working to unlock the secrets of equines. Their findings may provide a springboard for better muscular horse health, and a different approach to breathing devices for humans.
John Hermanson, Norm Ducharme and Jonathan Cheetham, all of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, Ithaca, NY, John Bertram, University of Calgary, College of Medicine, Calgary, Alberta, CN, and Michael Butcher, Department of Biological Sciences, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH, comprise the research team. Dr. Hermanson will discuss the group's work at the American Physiological Society's (APS) (www.The-APS.org) meeting, The Integrative Biology of Exercise V. The conference is being held September 24-27, 2008 in Hilton Head, SC.
The lower limbs (legs) of horses are what allow them to move, either by walking, trotting, galloping or jumping. An elastic storage area is located inside the forelimbs, made up of long tendons. These tendons are vulnerable to injury during high speed training or racing.
The researchers focused their efforts on understanding why this occurs. They found
that two principal muscular factors in the fore limb guide a horse's forward movement. The first is the springy "pogo-stick" quality of the superficial digital flexor tendon, which provides the "bouncing" effect, which allows for trotting and, to a lesser extent, galloping. The second is work generated by the parallel deep digital flexor, which moves the horse forward over the ground. It is the balance bet
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American Physiological Society