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Comparison of the head and neck position of elite dressage horses during top-level competitions in 1992 versus 2008

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... The optimal head and neck position (HNP) of the horse for achieving the best result in dressage training and competition and its consequences for sustainable health of the riding horse have been a subject of debate among riders for centuries (de la Guérnière, 1733;Podhajsky 1967;Nelson, 1992). More recently, Lashley et al. (2014) have shown that horses performing piaffe and passage at Grand Prix competition had the dorsum of the nose further behind the vertical in the 2008 World Cup compared with the 1992 Olympic Games. ...
... Areas addressed during the last two decades include (but are not limited to) comparison of HNPs to the amount of "conflict" behavior (Eisersiö et al., 2010;Christensen et al., 2014;Kienapfel et al., 2014;Smiet et al., 2014), whether horses will voluntarily avoid being ridden in a lower position (von Borstel et al., 2009); effects on heart rate, rein tension, and salivary cortisol in horses ridden (Christensen et al., 2014) or lunged in various HNPs (Becker-Birk et al., 2012;Smiet et al., 2014); and effects on intrathoracic pressure and arterial blood gas values of lunging in various HNPs (Sleutjens et al., 2012). Most of the studies have been performed under experimental conditions, but a few were based on data from training/competition (Kienapfel et al., 2014;Lashley et al., 2014). Some of these studies included data on walk in their evaluation (Christensen et al., 2014;Kienapfel et al., 2014;Lashley et al., 2014). ...
... Most of the studies have been performed under experimental conditions, but a few were based on data from training/competition (Kienapfel et al., 2014;Lashley et al., 2014). Some of these studies included data on walk in their evaluation (Christensen et al., 2014;Kienapfel et al., 2014;Lashley et al., 2014). The evidence from these studies suggests that using constrained HNPs when training, at the population level, will at times be associated with nonoptimal welfare (Sloet van Oldruitenborgh-Oosterbaan et al., 2006;von Borstel et al., 2009;McGreevy et al., 2010;Wijnberg et al., 2010;Becker-Birck et al., 2012;Sleutjens et al., 2012). ...
Article
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The superimposed influences of different head and neck positions (HNPs) and rider effects on symmetry in sound horses have not been studied. Our aim was to investigate the effects of HNPs and rider on the symmetry in minimum height of the withers at the walk. Seven high-level dressage horses were studied with and without rider in six HNPs: HNP1, free position; HNP2, dressage competition position; HNP3, flexed poll position; HNP4, over-flexed position; HNP5, extended raised position; and HNP6, forward downward position. Kinematic and vertical ground reaction force data were recorded during 15 s trials on an instrumented treadmill. In mixed models, difference in the minimal height of the withers in early left vs right forelimb stance was modelled as dependent variable. The more restricted HNP3 (T-values 2.62 to 1.98, 118 DF, P = 0.001 to <0.05) and HNP5 (P = 0.002 to <0.05) were generally less symmetrical while unridden and more symmetrical while ridden, compared with the free (HNP1) or forward downward (HNP6) positions. Both with and without rider, when the withers dropped lower in early stance of one forelimb, this was associated with shorter protraction at the start of stance in the ipsilateral hind limb, and shorter stance overlaps between this hind limb and the other limbs during diagonal support, 3-limb support with two forelimbs and one hind limb, and ipsilateral support. HNP effects on withers movement asymmetry differed between unridden and ridden conditions. The considerable variation between horses stresses the need for trainers to use individualized training programs to address horse asymmetry.
... In this issue of The Veterinary Journal, Dr Morgan Lashley and colleagues reveal that head angles in elite dressage were less correct in 2008 than in 1992, and that these flaws were associated with higher dressage scores (Lashley et al., 2014). Performances are more pleasing to judges, while true quality is declining. ...
... The period reported by Lashley et al. (2014) covered 1992-2008, which coincides with the rise in use of restrictive nosebands that are now almost ubiquitous in elite dressage. The 'abuse of a horse using . . . ...
... Nowadays, the desired head and neck positions used in training and competition might be different from what they were a decade ago, as Lashley et al. [17] found a difference in head angle of the horses between top-level dressage competitions in 1992 and 2008 suggesting changes in head and neck positions over the years. Since the head and neck position significantly influences the kinematics of the horse [18][19][20][21], the use of different head and neck positions may be a risk in terms of the welfare of the horse. ...
... Modern techniques of asking the horse to be 'on the bit' usually require the horse to change the angle of its neck to find relief from pressure applied by the rider through the bit and reins [13], thereby positioning the nose behind the vertical line [17,30]. There is much discussion in the equine world about riders using high rein tension to obtain a desired head and neck position. ...
Article
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Background: Debate surrounds the use of high rein tension for obtaining different head and neck positions in the training of sport horses on account of possible welfare issues. Objectives: To compare auxiliary rein tension in two methods for obtaining a standardized head and neck position on a hard and a soft surface; Draw Reins and Concord Leader. Study design: Intervention study. Methods: Left and right rein tensions were measured in 11 base-level trained client-owned sport horses (mean age ± standard deviation: 10 ± 3.2 years) exercised in-hand with, in a random order, conventional draw reins or the newly developed Concord Leader in a standardized head and neck position. Rein tension was measured using a calibrated device operating at 10 Hz during six runs of 15 sec in a straight line for each training method on both a hard and a soft surface. A linear mixed model and grouped logistic regression analysis were applied to compare the two methods (p< 0.05). Results: The odds of a tension of 0 N were lower with draw reins than with the Concord Leader. The rein tension (mean sum of the force applied, in N) of the draw reins was 13.8 times higher than that of the Concord Leader. Main limitations: This study was performed on horses exercised in-hand; however, these auxiliary aids are normally used when lunging. Possible redirection of rein tension towards the poll was not measured. Conclusions: We showed that when using the Concord Leader a similar head and neck position is achieved with a much lower rein tension than with the draw reins and, more importantly, with a much greater likelihood of 0N. It is unnecessary to use high auxiliary rein tension to obtain a standard, flexed head and neck position. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
... Obtaining and maintaining a defined head/neck position is a widely recognised prerequisite for most uses of the horse; this has been the reason for several research groups to start investigating such defined head/neck positions about 10 years ago (Rhodin et al., 2005;van Breda, 2006;Weishaupt et al., 2006;de Cocq et al., 2009;Rhodin et al., 2009;Waldern et al., 2009;Elgersma et al., 2010;Wijnberg et al., 2010;Kattelans et al., 2013;Lashley et al., 2014;Kienapfel, 2015). The effect of such head/neck positions on the overall locomotion of the horse has been established in several in vivo studies, and a high head position was found to reduce the dorsoventral ROM of the back in the unridden horse at walk and trot (Rhodin et al., 2005(Rhodin et al., , 2009; this is most likely due to extension in the cranial part and flexion in the caudal part of the thoracolumbar vertebral column (Gómez Álvarez et al., 2006). ...
... In the maximum flexed cranial neck and head position the metatarsophalangeal joint was more extended, indicating a higher hindlimb load compared to the unrestricted neck and the raised neck (Kattelans et al., 2013). The desired head/neck position of horses ridden for dressage has been changing over the years, and this was documented in a recent work spanning 25 years (Lashley et al., 2014). In this study, videos of competitions with dressage horses (at the highest level, i.e. ...
Article
During both locomotion and body movements at stance, the head and neck of the horse are a major craniocaudal and lateral balancing mechanism employing input from the visual, vestibular and proprioceptive systems. The function of the equine neck has recently become the focus of several research groups; this is probably also feeding on an increase of interest in the equine neck in equestrian sports, with a controversial discussion of specific neck positions such as maximum head and neck flexion. The aim of this review is to offer an overview of new findings on the structures and functions of the equine neck, illustrating their interplay. The movement of the neck is based on intervertebral motion, but it is also an integral part of locomotion; this is illustrated by the different neck conformations in the breeds of horses used for various types of work. The considerable effect of the neck movement and posture onto the whole trunk and even the limbs is transmitted via bony, ligamentous and muscular structures. Also, the fact that the neck position can easily be influenced by the rider and/or by the employment of training aids makes it an important avenue for training of new movements of the neck as well as the whole horse. Additionally, the neck position also affects the cervical spinal cord as well as the roots of the spinal nerves; besides the commonly encountered long-term neurological effects of cervical vertebral disorders, short-term changes of neural and muscular function have also been identified in the maximum flexion of the cranial neck and head position. During locomotion, the neck stores elastic energy within the passive tissues such as ligaments, joint capsules and fasciae. For adequate stabilisation, additional muscle activity is necessary; this is learned and requires constant muscle training as it is essential to prevent excessive wear and tear on the vertebral joints and also repetitive or single trauma to the spinal nerves and the spinal cord. The capability for this stabilisation decreases with age in the majority of horses due to changes in muscle tissue, muscle coordination and consequently muscle strength. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.
... Although many variants exist, HNP is broadly categorised as on the vertical (OTV-where the horses nose is vertical/rostral to the poll; 90 • ), behind the vertical (BTV-were the nose is <90 • ) or in front of the vertical (>90 • ) (e.g. Lashley et al., 2014). A longitudinal study by Randle and Venables (2012) using manually derived horse HNP angles from static images published by the FEI, revealed a non significant reduction in horse head angle in FEI dressage competitions following the FEI workshop suggesting that it had no lasting impact on industry practice. ...
... A longitudinal study by Randle and Venables (2012) using manually derived horse HNP angles from static images published by the FEI, revealed a non significant reduction in horse head angle in FEI dressage competitions following the FEI workshop suggesting that it had no lasting impact on industry practice. Likewise Lashley et al.'s (2014) analysis of stills captured from video of the 1992 Olympic Games and the 2008 Word Cup Final using computer based angle measurement indicated that the BTV HNP was still very common in 2008. Unpublished data using the Venables and Randle (2016) methods on an extended data set covering 1992-2016 confirms that this is still the case (Kent, unpublished data). ...
Article
Equitation encompasses a range of activities in which horses interact closely with humans. The need to ensure both horse management and equitation practice is ethical and sustainable is emphasized globally. Robust and rigorous measurement is critical to objective assessment of practice. This review describes the outcomes of technology application within generic equine science and specific equitation science studies including heart rate monitoring, Electromyography, Infrared Thermography, Pressure Algometry and remote recording of behavior and cognitive functioning. The impact of pressure and tension applied by saddles, girths, head gear and gadgets is considered along with subtle behavioural measurements such as eye blink rate, behavioural switching and laterality, some of which reveal aspects brain functioning that have direct relevance to training. Well designed, reliable technology certainly has the potential to provide researchers with a panacea to problems relating to accuracy, precision and experimenter bias, ushering in a ‘golden age of equitation’. However, to reach this stage careful consideration must be given over to experimental logistics such as sample selection, device calibration and data processing. A series of potential drawbacks with the use of Technology are identified including managing noise and increasing signal strength, dealing with practical implementation issues and managing the volume of data in order to conduct appropriate analysis to reach meaningful conclusions. Technology users are warned against the temptation to engage in Abductive Science when discussing the output of equitation science methodologies. Putting good research into practice, and vice versa, is crucial to future-proofing equitation and horse welfare.
... Recently, head-and-neck positions have been subject to intense scientific scrutiny because of the current debate about the perceived benefits and disadvantages and compromised welfare of a specific head-and-neck position known as hyperflexion (also known as rollkur, long deep and round training) [25,26,27,28]. Hyperflexion means the horse is ridden with its nasal planum behind the vertical. ...
Article
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Human preferences for certain morphological attributes among domestic animals may be entirely individual or, more generally, may reflect evolutionary pressures that favor certain conformation. Artificial selection for attributes, such as short heads and crested necks of horses, may have functional and welfare implications because there is evidence from other species that skull shape co-varies with behaviour. Crested necks can be accentuated by flexion of the neck, a quality that is often manipulated in photographs vendors use when selling horses. Equine head-and-neck positions acquired through rein tension can compromise welfare. Our investigation was designed to identify conformations and postures that people are attracted to when choosing their 'ideal' horse. Participants of an internet survey were asked to rate their preference for horse silhouettes that illustrated three gradations of five variables: facial shape, crest height, ear length, ear position and head-and-neck carriage. There were 1,234 usable responses. The results show that overall preferences are for the intermediate, rather than extreme, morphological choices (p
... Some argue that modern dressage horses look less relaxed than their counterparts of yesteryear. Certainly, there is more poll flexion than there used to be and more conflict at the level of mouths (Lashley et al. 2014). ...
... Recently, Lashley et al. [87] have revealed that head angles of horses in elite dressage were less correct in 2008 than in 1992, and that these flaws were associated with higher dressage scores. Performances are more pleasing to judges, while true quality (as defined by the rule book) is declining. ...
Article
This paper introduces the key challenges encountered when investigating the human–horse interface. With a focus in recent research on the application of learning theory in horses, it reviews the progress made in the emergent discipline of equitation science over the past decade. An appreciation of the role of learning theory in horse training is still in its infancy and is still refuted by traditionalists who believe that the horse can be trained as a willing participant that knows what is being asked of it. Despite this predictable resistance, the growing body of peer-reviewed evidence shows how equitation science reveals equestrian techniques that are difficult to justify within an ethical framework. Regardless of what some traditional critics claim, equitation science does nothing to undermine the emotional bonds that humans share with horses. On the contrary, it forces those who use horses to adopt a horse-centric approach to their training; an approach that ensures the cognitive powers of their trainees is not overestimated. The strength of this approach lies in acknowledging that training deficits are the main cause of poor performance, and that rider safety and horse welfare can be compromised by sloppy application of learning theory. The present paper describes the tools being used to study rider–horse interactions and concludes with a summary of the abiding challenges in applying learning theory to equitation.
... Recent CO amendments now state that the head position must not impede the natural topline of the dog during heelwork and that dogs must be balanced with vertical rear pasterns (Kennel Club, 2017b,c). This is in stark contrast to equine dressage regulations where head positions are subject to detailed description (FEI, 2017;Lashley et al., 2014). However, previous research suggests obedience judges do not select for acute head and neck positions (Harris et al., 2017), potentially due to the guidelines being previously vague (Kennel Club, 2017b). ...
Article
Dog obedience competition is an understudied area of canine kinematic research. Consequently, little is understood about the potential welfare considerations of competing in such disciplines. This study examined correlations between the dog's head position and judges' scores during an obedience heelwork test. Dartfish was used to analyse head and neck positions of obedience dogs whilst completing a heelwork test in competition. The study found no correlation between judges scores and the apparent head and neck angle of the dogs during heelwork. There was also no correlation between head and neck position of the dogs and the time taken to complete the heelwork test. Study findings demonstrate that more acute hyperextension of the dog's neck during heelwork is not being selected for by judges. Thus, more research is needed to examine where the desire for apparent hyperextension is originating from and indeed the welfare implications of such positions.
... There is clear evidence that the position of the horse's head and neck influences the kinematics of the thoracolumbosacral spine (Rhodin et al., 2005Gómez Álvarez et al., 2006) and that elevation of the head is likely to result in extension of the back which is probably undesirable. Although hyperflexion of the neck has been a source of considerable controversy in the dressage world (von Borstel et al., 2009;Sleutjens et al., 2012;Kienapfel et al., 2014;Lashley et al., 2014;König von Borstel and McGreevy, 2014), there is little evidence that there are any direct clinically adverse effects on the musculoskeletal system. Moreover, the same postures are commonly achieved in show jumping horses by the use of draw reins and have been used for much longer than the practice of 'Rollkür', with no recognised deleterious consequences. ...
Article
The quality of equine performance can be influenced by pain, whether or not that results in overt lameness. Recognition of low-grade lameness is challenging, but with careful observation there are many clues which veterinarians, riders and trainers should recognise. Riders and trainers are frequently unable or unwilling to recognise lameness or other behavioural changes that are a manifestation of pain. Work discipline, body size and conformation may be risk factors for lameness. Work surfaces may also have a role. There is an integral relationship between limb and thoracolumbosacral function. There is also an interaction between the rider and thoracolumbosacral function and health. The saddle is an interface between the rider and the horse and saddle-fit for both horse and rider is crucial for optimal thoracolumbar health and function. The tendency of a saddle to persistently slip to one side is most commonly secondary to hind limb lameness. The rider communicates with the horse via the reins and the bit. The design of the bit, its position and size influence oral comfort. Training aids such as draw reins or a Pessoa Training Aid, appropriately used may improve hind limb propulsion. However, there are still wide gaps in our knowledge about strategies to minimise the risks of injuries to the ridden horse, and a need for further research making use of technological advances in the fields of equine biomechanics with the results applied in equitation science.
... Por ello, es más conveniente analizar la relación entre los rasgos morfológicos y el rendimiento de Doma Clásica en caballos jóvenes ya que éstos son juzgados, principalmente, en base a las propias características de sus aires básicos (Biau and Barrey, 2004). A pesar de que son muchos los trabajos que han puesto de manifiesto, desde el punto de vista fenotípico, la relación entre conformación y funcionalidad en los ejercicios de Doma Clásica (Barrey et al., 2002, Kattelans et al., 2013, Lashley et al., 2014, Greve and Dyson, 2015, son muy pocos los trabajos que han elaborado índices genéticos morfológicos para la preselección de caracteres funcionales, dado el reducido número de estudios morfológicos realizados en animales de competición y la complejidad en la elaboración de un índice genético basado en criterios morfológicos, que proporcione una respuesta indirecta positiva sobre el rendimiento funcional. Recientemente, razas como el Pura Sangre Lusitano o el Trotador Finlandés han presentado un Índice de selección con los rasgos morfológicos más importantes para variables funcionales, como el tiempo de carrera o las ganancias en carreras de trote o Doma Clásica (Suontama et al., 2013;Vicente et al., 2014b). ...
Technical Report
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A presente publicação reúne as comunicações apresentadas na jornada de transferência do conhecimento científico e tecnológico “ A genética ao serviço da produção animal”, que teve lugar na Escola Superior Agrária de Elvas a 25 de maio de 2017, inserida nas atividades do projeto ALT Biotech RepGen: RECURSOS GENÉTICOS ANIMAIS E BIOTECNOLOGIAS: PROJEÇÃO PARA O FUTURO. Os oradores que participaram nesta jornada acederam generosa e entusiasticamente ao desafio proposto pela organização da mesma: o de transformar o conteúdo das suas comunicações num texto técnico, que permitisse estender a partilha dos conhecimentos transmitidos a todos os potenciais interessados, como forma adicional de contribuir para a divulgação das ferramentas atualmente utilizadas na genética e melhoramento animal. Nesta área do conhecimento, as últimas décadas proporcionaram o desenvolvimento sem precedentes de tecnologias que permitem que esteja hoje disponível um manancial de informação e um conjunto alargado de serviços, visando a conservação dos recursos genéticos e o melhoramento dos rendimentos produtivos dos efetivos, numa ótica de desenvolvimento sustentável da produção pecuária. A sua aplicação assume também particular relevo no campo da segurança alimentar e defesa do consumidor, temas para os quais a sociedade revela cada vez mais sensibilidade e interesse. Espera-se, assim, que a leitura desta publicação possa contribuir para dar a conhecer um pouco melhor alguns destes temas, e sensibilizar toda a fileira (dos produtores aos consumidores) para a sua importância.
... The effect of different head and neck position on the performance and health of riding horses has been debated for centuries (Baucher, 1852;De la Guerniére, 1733). Over the recent decades (1992)(1993)(1994)(1995)(1996)(1997)(1998)(1999)(2000)(2001)(2002)(2003)(2004)(2005)(2006)(2007)(2008) a head position with the bridge of the nose behind the vertical has become more prevalent at dressage competitions (Lashley et al., 2014), and in the last two decades hyperflexion has been debated (Van Weeren, 2013). A variety of studies have addressed physical, psychological and welfare aspects of different HNPs (e.g. ...
Article
The debate on proper head and neck positions (HNP) in horse training is lively, but little is known about the biomechanical effects of various HNPs in horses ridden at walk. The aim was to quantify the influence of different HNPs on the kinematics of horses ridden at walk. The standard competition position (HNP2) was compared to a free, unrestrained position (HNP1), more flexed positions (HNP3, HNP4), a raised extended position (HNP5) and a forward-downward extended position (HNP6). An experimental study in seven high-level dressage horses ridden at walk on a treadmill was designed. Kinetic and kinematic measurements were obtained with different HNPs. HNP2 was used as a speed-matched reference. Kinematics were measured from skin-fixed markers recorded by high-speed video cameras. The kinetics of the limbs were measured by the force-measuring instrumentation of the treadmill. In HNP1, compared to HNP2, the lumbar back and the pelvis were more horizontally positioned (more extended), and fore- and hindlimb pro- and retraction increased, with increased caudal rotation of the femur during the second half of hindlimb stance. HNP6 induced similar changes as HNP1, but caused larger increases in forelimb pro- and retraction. In HNP3, HNP4 and HNP5 the pelvis was more angled (less extended) compared to HNP2 at hindlimb midstance, and in HNP3 and HNP4 also in early hindlimb stance. All three HNPs caused increased maximum flexion of the tarsus, stifle and metatarsophalangeal joint during the swing phase. HNP3 and HNP5, but not HNP4, had a decreasing influence on fore- and hindlimb pro- and retraction, and decreased caudal rotation of the femur during the second half of hindlimb stance.The main limitation was that horses were not ridden overground and the number of horses was small. Our conclusion was that changes in head and neck position can markedly affect the horse's movement pattern at walk.
... From what is known, the footfall sequence is reported to be highly variable between horses, but still features the same attributes of gait quality as passage described above (Clayton, 1997). Compared with scores awarded in 1992, in 2008 dressage scores in top level competition were higher in horses with their head posture behind the vertical in piaffe, although this may have reflected the use of a specific training technique that was popular at that time (Lashley et al., 2014). Posture of the rider is reported to change with increasing collection of the horse, such as in passage and piaffe. ...
Article
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As a first step in achieving an evidence-based classification system for the sport of Para Dressage, there is a clear need to define elite dressage performance. Previous studies have attempted to quantify performance with able-bodied riders using scientific methods; however, definitive measures have yet to be established for the horse and/or the rider. This may be, in part, due to the variety of movements and gaits that are found within a dressage test and also due to the complexity of the horse-rider partnership. The aim of this review is therefore to identify objective measurements of horse performance in dressage and the functional abilities of the rider that may influence them to achieve higher scores. Five databases (SportDiscuss, CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, VetMed) were systematically searched from 1980 to May 2018. Studies were included if they fulfilled the following criteria: (1) English language; (2) employ objective, quantitative outcome measures for describing equine and human performance in dressage; (3) describe objective measures of superior horse performance using between-subject comparisons and/or relating outcome measures to competitive scoring methods; (4) describe demands of dressage using objective physiological and/or biomechanical measures from human athletes and/or how these demands are translated into superior performance. In total, 773 articles were identified. Title and abstract screening resulted in 155 articles that met the eligibility criteria, 97 were excluded during the full screening of articles, leaving 58 included articles (14 horse, 44 rider) involving 311 equine and 584 able-bodied human participants. Mean ± sd (%) quality scores were 63.5 ± 15.3 and 72.7 ± 14.7 for the equine and human articles respectively. Significant objective measures of horse performance (n = 12 articles) were grouped into themes and separated by gait/movement. A range of temporal variables that indicated superior performance were found in all gaits/movements. For the rider, n = 5 articles reported variables that identified significant differences in skill level, which included the postural position and ROM of the rider’s pelvis, trunk, knee and head. The timing of rider pelvic and trunk motion in relation to the movement of the horse emerged as an important indicator of rider influence. As temporal variables in the horse are consistently linked to superior performance it could be surmised that better overall dressage performance requires minimal disruption from the rider whilst the horse maintains a specific gait/movement. Achieving the gait/movement in the first place depends upon the intrinsic characteristics of the horse, the level of training achieved and the ability of the rider to apply the correct aid. The information from this model will be used to develop an empirical study to test the relative strength of association between impairment and performance in able-bodied and Para Dressage riders.
... Recent CO amendments now state that the head position must not impede the natural topline of the dog during heelwork and that dogs must be balanced with vertical rear pasterns (Kennel Club, 2017b,c). This is in stark contrast to equine dressage regulations where head positions are subject to detailed description (FEI, 2017;Lashley et al., 2014). However, previous research suggests obedience judges do not select for acute head and neck positions (Harris et al., 2017), potentially due to the guidelines being previously vague (Kennel Club, 2017b). ...
Article
Competitive obedience (CO) is a canine discipline judged on a dog and handlers ability to undertake obedience exercises at different levels. Currently, there is limited research focusing on competitive obedience. Despite this, regulations regarding heelwork positions have recently been released causing discussion and controversy within the UK CO community. A hyperextended neck position is often apparent during heelwork tests of obedience, yet there is no research stating why this is a common training technique or expectation. This study investigated human preferences for heelwork positions and identified possible reasons for training such positions. Participants (n=251) of an online survey stated their CO experience, whether they trained for a high head position and reasons for training high head positions. Participants were required to rank 12 heelwork positions from 1; most preferred to 12; least preferred, followed by a statement of justification for preference one. Of participants, 70% did not train for high heads and 'focus' was reported the most common theme for training this position. The top three themes for preferences included: natural, good head positioning, and focus. Overall, image ranking was varied and differences in preferences were noted between experience groups. A raised head position was apparent in preference one but was not an extreme position. Study findings demonstrated variation in rankings yet responses mostly mirrored current CO regulations and guidelines; a positive outcome for welfare of CO dogs. Preference results highlighted minimal concerning factors regarding canine health and welfare. These results must be used to further extend CO research; particularly for further creation of an appropriate model for heelwork positioning.
... Studies evaluating the head angulation of horses during dressage riding have found that horses' heads are behind the vertical line in all gaits more often during recent competitions than in the past [1]. The influence of headeneck positions (HNPs) on the general well-being of the horse is a subject of debate, especially with regard to the applied rein tension [2,3]. ...
Article
Flexion of the horse's head and neck during dressage riding reduces the pharyngeal lumen with the risk of increased upper airway resistance and upper airway obstructions. According to the Fédération Equestre Internationale, hyperflexion is achieved through force, whereas the position low-deep-round is nonforced. The objectives of this study were to evaluate (1) applied rein tension and (2) dynamic structural disorders in the upper airways in dressage horses in different gaits and different head-neck positions (HNPs). Overground endoscopy (OGE) and rein tension were evaluated in 13 clinically healthy and high-performance Warmblood dressage horses while being ridden in a standardized program comprised of four different gaits (halt, walk, trot, and canter) and in four HNPs (unrestrained, competition frame, hyperflexion, and low-deep-round). All included horses were able to achieve the desired HNPs. The HNP low-deep-round showed significantly lower rein tension than competition frame (P < .001) and hyperflexion (P < .001). An association was found between dynamic structural disorders in the upper airway tract evaluated by OGE and head-neck flexion, but this association was not linked to the degree of flexion. The HNP hyperflexion was neither associated with greater rein tension nor severe dynamic structural disorders than the HNP competition frame. This study confirms that low-deep-round is a nonforced position, in contrast to hyperflexion. Further studies are needed to evaluate whether dynamic structural disorders are a result of flexion or if the degree of flexion has an impact.
... From what is known, the footfall sequence is reported to be highly variable between horses, but still features the same attributes of gait quality as passage described above (Clayton, 1997). Compared with scores awarded in 1992, in 2008 dressage scores in top level competition were higher in horses with their head posture behind the vertical in piaffe, although this may have reflected the use of a specific training technique that was popular at that time (Lashley et al., 2014). Posture of the rider is reported to change with increasing collection of the horse, such as in passage and piaffe. ...
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As a first step in achieving an evidence-based classification system for the sport of Para Dressage, there is a clear need to define elite dressage performance. Previous studies have attempted to quantify performance with able-bodied riders using scientific methods; however, definitive measures have yet to be established for the horse and/or the rider. This may be, in part, due to the variety of movements and gaits that are found within a dressage test and also due to the complexity of the horse-rider partnership. The aim of this review is therefore to identify objective measurements of horse performance in dressage and the functional abilities of the rider that may influence them to achieve higher scores. Five databases (SportDiscuss, CINAHL, MEDLINE, EMBASE, VetMed) were systematically searched from 1980 to May 2018. Studies were included if they fulfilled the following criteria: (1) English language; (2) employ objective, quantitative outcome measures for describing equine and human performance in dressage; (3) describe objective measures of superior horse performance using between-subject comparisons and/or relating outcome measures to competitive scoring methods; (4) describe demands of dressage using objective physiological and/or biomechanical measures from human athletes and/or how these demands are translated into superior performance. In total, 773 articles were identified. Title and abstract screening resulted in 155 articles that met the eligibility criteria, 97 were excluded during the full screening of articles, leaving 58 included articles (14 horse, 44 rider) involving 311 equine and 584 able-bodied human participants. Mean ± sd (%) quality scores were 63.5 ± 15.3 and 72.7 ± 14.7 for the equine and human articles respectively. Significant objective measures of horse performance (n = 12 articles) were grouped into themes and separated by gait/movement. A range of temporal variables that indicated superior performance were found in all gaits/movements. For the rider, n = 5 articles reported variables that identified significant differences in skill level, which included the postural position and ROM of the rider’s pelvis, trunk, knee and head. The timing of rider pelvic and trunk motion in relation to the movement of the horse emerged as an important indicator of rider influence. As temporal variables in the horse are consistently linked to superior performance it could be surmised that better overall dressage performance requires minimal disruption from the rider whilst the horse maintains a specific gait/movement. Achieving the gait/movement in the first place depends upon the intrinsic characteristics of the horse, the level of training achieved and the ability of the rider to apply the correct aid. The information from this model will be used to develop an empirical study to test the relative strength of association between impairment and performance in able-bodied and Para Dressage riders.
... Dressage participants described how harsh, forceful training practices were sometimes rewarded by judges, creating tension between the ethical and relational prerogatives of horse-rider interaction and the need to achieve competitive success. This ambivalence and concern may reflect the controversy over dressage riding practices such as unnatural gaits [110], hyperflexion [111] and forceful training methods that encourage unnatural movement, but are nonetheless often rewarded competitively [17,112,113]. Concerns over nationalism, wherein European riders tend to uniformly outscore other countries, and the halo effect, where top riders may receive a strong mark despite an average performance [110], something Georgina described experiencing because of her profile as a highly successful rider, may have also contributed to participants' diffidence about the partnership-performance dynamic [110]. ...
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The horse–rider relationship is fundamental to ethical equestrianism wherein equine health and welfare are prioritized as core dimensions of sporting success. Equestrianism represents a unique and important form of interspecies activity in which relationships are commonly idealized as central to sporting performance but have been largely unexplored in the sport psychology literature. Horse–rider relationships warrant particular consideration in the elite sporting context, given the tension between constructions of “partnership” between horse and rider, and the pragmatic pressures of elite sport on horse and rider and their relationship. The current study examined the link between sporting performance and the horse–rider relationship in an elite equestrian sporting context. Thirty-six international elite riders from eight countries and six equestrian disciplines participated in a single in-depth interview. A social constructionist, grounded theory methodology was used to analyze this data. The horse–rider relationship was positioned in three different ways in relation to elite sporting outcomes: as pivotal to success; non-essential to success; or as antithetical to success. Participants shifted between these positions, expressing nuanced, ambivalent attitudes that reflected their sporting discipline and their personal orientation to equestrianism. Competitive success was also defined in fluid terms, with participants differentiating between intrinsic and extrinsic markers of success. These findings suggest a complex and multifaceted connection between interspecies performance and relationships in elite sport. Where strong horse–rider relationships are antithetical to performance, a threat to the welfare and ethics of equestrian sport exists. Relevant sporting governing bodies must attend to this problem to ensure the centrality of animal welfare, wellbeing, and performance longevity to equestrian sports.
... Although the high frequency of occurrence of head behind vertical ≥10 • for ≥10 s in any movement may be compounded by the presence of musculoskeletal discomfort, it seems likely that this may also be in part a reflection of modern-day training. The observation of head behind vertical increased in frequency among elite Grand Prix horses between 1992 and 2008 [29]. It is clearly not being heavily penalised by judges. ...
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Advances in Animal Health, Medicine and Production pp 485-509 No Room to Breathe: Airway Conditions Affecting the Equine Athlete Authors and affiliations P. Tilley, J. Simões, V. Pessoa, R. Fonseca, J. P. Sales-Luis First Online: 22 November 2020 Abstract During exercising endoscopy, head flexion has been shown to be an important predisposing factor for upper respiratory tract collapse and is associated with conflict behaviour. Based on the substantial number of studies on the impact of hyperflexed postures on horse welfare, it was recently suggested for further research to be done on the physiological/psychological effects of a lesser degree of flexion. Our group evaluated horses ridden in two very close head positions and were able to identify significant differences for various parameters. Inflammatory airway disease (IAD) could be the effect of repeated episodes of nasopharyngeal asphyxia, its sequel being exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage (EIPH). EIPH and IAD account for a wide number of horses failing to perform to their potential. The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine consensus statement proposed equine asthma syndrome (EAS) to describe horses with mild or moderate (IAD) to severe (RAO) airway disease. Insect bite hypersensitivity has been associated with airway hyperreactivity, suggesting a probable link with EAS, and multiple hypersensitivities are significantly associated with the absence of nematode eggs in faeces. Because severe EAS is a chronic disease with significant impact on the equine population, the development of staging methods for this disease by our group became essential to optimise equine medical care. Keywords Endoscopy URT collapse Head hyperflexion Equine Asthma Syndrome (EAS) Staging Hypersensitivity This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access. Acknowledgements The authors thank CIISA and in particular Project FCT UIDP/CVT/00276/2020.
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There is considerable debate about the social license to compete with horses and controversy about training methods for dressage horses. The objectives were to: 1. apply the Ridden Horse Pain Ethogram (RHpE) to dressage horses competing at elite Grand Prix level; 2. compare RHpE and judges’ scores; and 3. document deviations in gaits from Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) guidelines. Video recordings of 147 competitors from nine World Cup competitions were assessed. Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient tested the correlation between RHpE and judges’ scores. The median RHpE score was 3 (IQR 1, 4; range 0, 7). There was a moderate negative correlation (Spearman rho −0.40, p < 0.001) between the RHpE scores and the judges’ scores. Mouth open with separation of the teeth for ≥10 s (68%), head behind vertical ≥10° ≥ 10 s (67%), an intense stare for ≥5 s (30%) and repeated tail swishing (29%) were the most frequent RHpE behaviours. Deviations from FEI guidelines were most frequent in passage, piaffe, canter flying-changes, canter pirouettes and “halt-immobility-rein back five steps-collected trot”. In conclusion, most horses appeared to work comfortably for the majority of the test. Further investigation of the influence of a double bridle compared with a snaffle bridle on head position and mouth opening is merited.
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In the equestrian discipline of dressage, the behavior encouraged through judging should be based on correct and welfare-centered training techniques. Certain behaviors in the ridden horse result from unclear or conflicting cues from the rider and can be referred to as conflict behaviors. This study aimed to investigate the occurrence of these behaviors during Preliminary, Novice and Elementary level British Dressage (BD) tests, and to examine their relationship with performance evaluation by the judge. Data were collected from 75 dressage tests in November and December 2019. Each test was filmed, and the judges’ scores collected. Between five and seven movements (i.e., small numbered sections into which dressage tests are divided) within each test were analyzed and the frequency of conflict behaviors displayed used to derive a behavior score for each movement. These behaviors were recorded in six subsections: head, ears, mouth, tail, auditory and whole body. Conflict behaviors were seen in 97.6% of the movements analyzed, with horses displaying two or more such behaviors in 83% of movements. There was no significant association found between judge score and overall behavior score but there was a negative correlation between whole body scores and judge score (Spearman's rank correlation: p<0.001). Horses with their nasal plane in front of the vertical were awarded lower judge scores than those with their nasal plane either vertical (Wilcoxon rank sum test: p<0.01), or less than 30° behind the vertical (p<0.001). Judge scores were significantly higher for movements in which horses had their ears forward compared to those in which ears were held back (Wilcoxon rank sum test: p<0.05) or to the side (p<0.05). No association was found between judge score and mouth or tail behavior. Significantly higher mouth behavior scores were seen within downwards transitions (e.g. canter to trot) compared to movements which involved changing the rein (Wilcoxon rank sum test: p<0.05) or circling to the right (p<0.05). Conflict behaviors occurred in almost all the dressage movements analyzed, but the only association with performance score was when the behavior involved the horse's whole body and/or the head and neck. Behavioral signs of conflict are indicative of compromised welfare in ridden horses and the results of this study suggest that a greater focus on such behavior should be included in dressage judge training and performance evaluation.
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Dressage involves training of the horse with the head and neck placed in a position defined by the rider. The best position for dressage training is currently under debate among riders and trainers, but there are few scientific data available to confirm or disprove the different views. To evaluate the kinematic effects of different head and neck positions (HNPs) in elite dressage horses ridden at trot. Seven high-level dressage horses were subjected to kinetic and kinematic measurements when ridden on a treadmill with the head and neck in 5 different positions. Compared to free trot on loose reins the HNP desired for collected trot at dressage competitions increased T6 vertical excursion, increased sacral flexion and decreased limb retraction after lift-off. Further increasing head or head and neck flexion caused few additional changes while an extremely elevated neck position increased hindlimb flexion and lumbar back extension during stance, increased hindlimb flexion during swing and further increased trunk vertical excursion. The movements of the horse are significantly different when ridden on loose reins compared to the position used in collected trot. The exact degree of neck flexion is, however, not consistently correlated to the movements of the horse's limbs and trunk at collected trot. An extremely elevated neck position can produce some effects commonly associated with increased degree of collection, but the increased back extension observed with this position may place the horse at risk of injury if ridden in this position for a prolonged period. Head and neck positions influence significantly the kinematics of the ridden horse. It is important for riders and trainers to be aware of these effects in dressage training.
Article
Olympic dressage involves “an intimate unity between a human and a non-human” and is scored by a subjective judging process, under the auspices of the Fédération Equestre Internationale whose Code of Conduct declares the welfare of the horse as paramount. Dressage is of particular interest to equitation scientists and equine ethologists because it embodies the full range of the stimulus-response contingencies that operate in all of the Olympic disciplines. In Fédération Equestre Internationale dressage competition, collective marks are awarded across four domains immediately after each performance. Collective marks are designed to summarize the performance of horse and rider and must reflect the qualities of the entire performance. They are derived from the observation of the judges of the separate test movements. The 4 collective marks include: (1) paces; (2) impulsion; (3) submission; and (4) the rider's position and seat; correctness and effect of the aids (rider signals). The definition of submission in this context makes reference to lightness and other qualities that align with optimal ridden horse welfare. We assessed the characteristics of these marks in horses competing in the 2008 Olympic Games Grand Prix (GP; n=46) and Grand Prix Special (GPS; n=25) dressage competitions. We also examined the effect of judge location and used Pearson correlation coefficients to explore relationships between collective marks and test-movement scores. All 4 collective marks correlated with each other significantly (P
Article
We used an opportunistic review of photographs of different adult and juvenile horses walking, trotting, and cantering (n = 828) to compare the angle of the nasal plane relative to vertical in feral and domestic horses at liberty (n = 450) with ridden horses advertised in a popular Australian horse magazine (n = 378). We assumed that horses in advertisements were shown at, what was perceived by the vendors to be, their best. Of the ridden horses, 68% had their nasal plane behind the vertical. The mean angle of the unridden horses at walk, trot, and canter (30.7 ± 11.5; 27.3 ± 12.0; 25.5 ± 11.0) was significantly greater than those of the ridden horses (1.4 ± 14.1; −5.1 ± −11.1; 3.1 ± 15.4, P < 0.001). Surprisingly, unridden domestic horses showed greater angles than feral horses or domestic horses at liberty. We compared adult and juvenile horses in all 3 gaits and found no significant difference. Taken together, these findings demonstrate that the longitudinal neck flexion of the degree desirable by popular opinion in ridden horses is not a common feature of unridden horses moving naturally. Moreover, they suggest that advertised horses in our series are generally being ridden at odds with their natural carriage and contrary to the international rules of dressage (as published by the International Equestrian Federation). These findings are discussed against the backdrop of the established doctrine, which states that carrying a rider necessitates changes in longitudinal flexion, and in the context of the current debate around hyperflexion.
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To evaluate the effect of various head and neck positions on intrathoracic pressure and arterial oxygenation during exercise in horses. 7 healthy Dutch Warmblood riding horses. The horses were evaluated with the head and neck in the following predefined positions: position 1, free and unrestrained; position 2, neck raised with the bridge of the nose aligned vertically; position 4, neck lowered and extremely flexed with the nose pointing toward the pectoral muscles; position 5, neck raised and extended with the bridge of the nose in front of a vertical line perpendicular to the ground surface; and position 7, neck lowered and flexed with the nose pointing towards the carpus. The standard exercise protocol consisted of trotting for 10 minutes, cantering for 4 minutes, trotting again for 5 minutes, and walking for 5 minutes. An esophageal balloon catheter was used to indirectly measure intrathoracic pressure. Arterial blood samples were obtained for measurement of Pao(2), Paco(2), and arterial oxygen saturation. Compared with when horses were in the unrestrained position, inspiratory intrathoracic pressure became more negative during the first trot (all positions), canter and second trot (position 4), and walk (positions 4 and 5). Compared with when horses were in position 1, intrathoracic pressure difference increased in positions 4, 2, 7, and 5; Pao(2) increased in position 5; and arterial oxygen saturation increased in positions 4 and 7. Position 4 was particularly influential on intrathoracic pressure during exercise in horses. The effects detected may have been caused by a dynamic upper airway obstruction and may be more profound in horses with upper airway disease.
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Current definitions of horse personality traits are rather vague, lacking clear, universally accepted guidelines for evaluation in performance tests. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to screen behavioural and physiological measurements taken during riding for potential links with scores the same horses received in the official stallion performance test for rideability and personality traits. Behaviour, heart rate (HR) and HR variability from thirty-six stallions participating in a performance test were recorded repeatedly during their performance test training. Using the coefficient of determination, regression analysis revealed that about 1/3 of variation (ranging between r = 0.26 (“constitution” (i.e. fitness, health)) and r = 0.46 (rideability)) in the personality trait scores could be explained by selecting the three most influential behaviour patterns per trait. These behaviour patterns included stumbling (with all traits except character), head-tossing (temperament, ride- ability), tail-swishing (willingness to work), involuntary change in gait (character) and the rider’s use of her/his hands (constitution, rideability), voice (temperament) or whip (con- stitution). Subsequent mixed model analysis revealed a significant (P < 0.05) influence of the behaviour pattern “horse-induced change in gait” on character (−0.98 ± 0.31 scores per additional occurrence of change in gaits), of head-tossing (−0.25 ± 0.08 scores) and rider’s use of voice (−0.51 ± 0.25; P = 0.0594) on temperament, and of stumbling on each of the following: willingness to work (−2.5 ± 1.2), constitution (−2.5 ± 1.2 scores; P = 0.0516) and rideability scores (−3.3 ± 1.4). In addition, constitution scores tended (P = 0.0889) to increase with higher low frequency/high frequency heart rate variation ratios (LF/HF), indi- cating a shift towards sympathetic dominance and thus a higher stress load in horses with higher scores for constitution. Rideability scores from the training phase were also sig- nificantly influenced by head-tossing (−0.5 ± 0.1), and in addition rideability scores from the final test were influenced by the training rider, ranging between average estimated rideability scores of 6.8 ± 0.4 for one training rider and 8.36 ± 0.3 scores for another train- ing rider. Horses ridden with their nose-line predominantly behind the vertical received higher scores for rideability (8.3 ± 0.3) than horses ridden with their nose-line at the vertical (7.7 ± 0.2). These findings indicate that either judges perceive horses to have a better ride- ability when they readily offer a more extreme poll flexion, or that riders make use of horses’ better rideability by imposing a more extreme poll flexion. Several of the above described associations, but also of the non-existing links (e.g. no association between shying or heart rate and temperament) between behaviour patterns and scores for personality traits are rather surprising, warranting further investigation regarding the underlying causes of these relationships. Some of these behaviour patterns should be considered when redesigning the current guidelines for evaluation of personality traits during breeding horse performance tests, ultimately leading to improved genetic selection for equine personality traits. However, ethical implication of defining aversive behaviour such as head-tossing as an indicator of, for example, poor temperament should not be neglected when devising new guidelines: such aversive behaviour may in fact be an indication of inadequate training techniques rather than poor horse personality.
Article
Laterolateral radiographs of equine necks are reported to be inaccurate in determining the site of spinal cord lesions even when a myelogram is carried out. The goal of this study was to assess constrictions present in the cervical vertebral canal at any time point throughout the extremes of movement. Sixteen equine cervical vertebral columns without history of cervical disease were used. After removal of the spinal cord, the dura mater was filled with polyurethane foam and during its plastic phase the cervical vertebral column was passively moved in flexion-extension, lateral bending and 30° rotated flexion and extension. Resulting moulded foam structures were scanned with a 3D laser scanner. Functional narrowing of the vertebral canal was located in the dorsolateral or ventrolateral regions, explaining its under-representation on laterolateral radiographs.
Article
Head and neck positions (HNP) in sport horses are under debate in the equine community, as they could interfere with equine welfare. HNPs have not been quantified objectively and no information is available on their head and neck loading. To quantify in vivo HNPs in sport horses and develop o a model to estimate loading on the cervical vertebrae in these positions. Videos were taken of 7 Warmbloods at walk on a straight line in 5 positions, representing all HNPs during Warmblood training and competition. Markers were glued at 5 anatomical landmarks. Two-dimensional angles and distances were determined from video frames for the 5 HNPs and statistically compared (P < 0.05). A new simulation model was developed to estimate nuchal ligament cervical loading at these HNPs. The mean angles were significantly different between the 5 HNPs for the line between C1 and T6 with the horizontal and for the line connecting the facial crest (CF) and C1 with the vertical, while the vertical distance from CF to the lateral styloid process of the radius (PS) was significantly different between all 5 positions (P < 0.05). The estimated nuchal ligament loading appeared to be largest at the origin of C2 for all HNPs, except for the 'hyperextended' HNP5; the 'hyperflexed' HNP4 showed the largest loading values on the nuchal ligament origins at all locations. HNPs can be accurately quantified in the sagittal plane from angles and distances based on standard anatomical landmarks and home-video captured images. Nuchal ligament loading showed the largest estimated values at its origin on C2 in hyperflexion (HNP4). Modelling opens further perspectives to eventually estimate loading for individual horses and thus ergonomically optimise their HNP, which may improve the welfare of the sport horse during training and competition.
Article
In dressage, the head and neck position has become an issue of concern as certain extreme positions may imply a welfare risk for the horse. In man, extension and flexion of the cervical spine cause a decrease and increase in intervertebral foramina dimensions, respectively. However, in horses, the influence of flexion and extension on foramina dimensions and its possible interference with peripheral nerve functioning remains unknown. To determine the effect of ex vivo flexion and extension on intervertebral foramina dimensions in the equine cervical spine. Computed tomography was performed on 6 cadaver cervical spines from adult Warmblood horses subjected to euthanasia for reasons unrelated to cervical spine abnormalities, in a neutral position, in 20 and 40° extension, and in 20 and 40° flexion. Multiplanar reconstructions were made to obtain transverse images perpendicular to the long axis of each pair of intervertebral foramina from C2-T1. Intervertebral foramina dimensions were measured in the 5 positions. Compared to the neutral position, 40° extension caused a decrease in foramina dimensions at segments C4-C5, C5-C6, C6-C7 (P < 0.001) and C7-T1 (P < 0.002); 20° extension caused a decrease in foramina dimensions at segments C5-C6 (P < 0.02), C6-C7 (P < 0.001) and C7-T1 (P < 0.01); 20° flexion caused an increase in foramen length at segment C6-C7 (P < 0.01). Ex vivo extension of the cervical spine causes a decrease in intervertebral foramina dimensions at segments C4-T1, similar to that found in man. In vivo extension of the cervical spine could possibly interfere with peripheral nerve functioning at segments C4-T1. This effect may be even more profound in patients with a reduced intervertebral foramina space, for example in the presence of facet joint arthrosis.
Article
There has been growing interest in training techniques with respect to the head and neck position (HNP) of the equine athlete. Little is known about the influence of HNP on neuromuscular transmission in neck muscles. To test the hypothesis that different HNPs have effect on single fibre (SF), quantitative electromyographic (QEMG) examination and muscle enzyme activity directly after moderate exercise. Seven Warmblood horses were studied using a standard exercise protocol in 5 HNPs: HNP1: unrestrained; HNP2: neck raised; bridge of nose around the vertical; HNP4: neck lowered and considerably flexed, bridge of nose pointing towards the chest; HNP5: neck raised and considerably extended; bridge of nose in front of the vertical; HNP7: neck lowered and flexed; bridge of nose pointing towards the carpus. Mean consecutive difference (MCD) of single muscle fibre potentials and motor unit action potential (MUP) variables (amplitude, duration, area, turns and phases) were recorded in each fixed position directly after exercise at rest using commercial EMG equipment. Muscle enzyme activity was measured before and 4, 6 and 24 h after exercise. Mean consecutive difference in all HNPs was higher than in HNP1 (22 µs, P < 0.001) of which HNP4 was highest with 39 µs compared to 30 µs in HNP2 (P = 0.04); MCD in HNP 5,7 was with 25 µs lower than in HNP 2 and 4 (P < 0.001). Odds ratio for MCD suggestive for conduction delay or block was 13.6 in HNP4 compared to HNP1 (P < 0.001). Motion unit action potential variables followed the same pattern as MCD. Lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) activity increased in HNP4 at 4 h (P = 0.014), 6 h (P = 0.017) and 24 h (P = 0.038) post exercise and in HNP5 and HNP7 at 4 h (P = 0.037; 0.029). HNP4 in particular leads to a higher rise in LDH activity, MCD and MUP variables, indicating that HNPs have effect on variables characterising neuromuscular functionality.
Article
Little is known in quantitative terms about the influence of different head-neck positions (HNPs) on the loading pattern of the locomotor apparatus. Therefore it is difficult to predict whether a specific riding technique is beneficial for the horse or if it may increase the risk for injury. To improve the understanding of forelimb-hindlimb balance and its underlying temporal changes in relation to different head and neck positions. Vertical ground reaction force and time parameters of each limb were measured in 7 high level dressage horses while being ridden at walk and trot on an instrumented treadmill in 6 predetermined HNPs: HNP1 - free, unrestrained with loose reins; HNP2 - neck raised, bridge of the nose in front of the vertical; HNP3 - neck raised, bridge of the nose behind the vertical; HNP4 - neck lowered and flexed, bridge of the nose considerably behind the vertical; HNP5 - neck extremely elevated and bridge of the nose considerably in front of the vertical; HNP6 - neck and head extended forward and downward. Positions were judged by a qualified dressage judge. HNPs were assessed by comparing the data to a velocity-matched reference HNP (HNP2). Differences were tested using paired t test or Wilcoxon signed rank test (P<0.05). At the walk, stride duration and overreach distance increased in HNP1, but decreased in HNP3 and HNP5. Stride impulse was shifted to the forehand in HNP1 and HNP6, but shifted to the hindquarters in HNP5. At the trot, stride duration increased in HNP4 and HNP5. Overreach distance was shorter in HNP4. Stride impulse shifted to the hindquarters in HNP5. In HNP1 peak forces decreased in the forelimbs; in HNP5 peak forces increased in fore- and hindlimbs. HNP5 had the biggest impact on limb timing and load distribution and behaved inversely to HNP1 and HNP6. Shortening of forelimb stance duration in HNP5 increased peak forces although the percentage of stride impulse carried by the forelimbs decreased. An extremely high HNP affects functionality much more than an extremely low neck.
Article
The objective was to determine whether collected trot, passage and piaffe could be distinguished as separate gaits on the basis of temporal variables. Sagittal plane, 60 Hz videotapes of 10 finalists in the dressage competitions at the 1992 Olympic Games were analysed to measure the temporal variables in absolute terms and as percentages of stride duration. Classification was based on analysis of variance, a graphical method and discriminant analysis. Stride duration was sufficient to distinguish collected trot from passage and piaffe in all horses. The analysis of variance showed that the mean values of most variables differed significantly between passage and piaffe. When hindlimb stance percentage was plotted against diagonal advanced placement percentage, some overlap was found between all 3 movements indicating that individual horses could not be classified reliably in this manner. Using hindlimb stance percentage and diagonal advanced placement percentage as input in a discriminant analysis, 80% of the cases were classified correctly, but at least one horse was misclassified in each movement. When the absolute, rather than percentage, values of the 2 variables were used as input in the discriminant analysis, 90% of the cases were correctly classified and the only misclassifications were between passage and piaffe. However, the 2 horses in which piaffe was misclassified as passage were the gold and silver medallists. In general, higher placed horses tended toward longer diagonal advanced placements, especially in collected trot and passage, and shorter hindlimb stance percentages in passage and piaffe.
Article
Systematically performed EMG needle examination of muscles provides essential information about the functional aspects of the motor unit. However, clinical studies in which information is given on the diagnostic and discriminative values of electromyography (EMG) in the horse are scarce. To determine to what extent inclusion of EMG analysis in clinical examination contributes to determination of type and localisation of abnormality. EMG analysis, complete clinical examination and diagnosis of 108 horses (mean +/- s.d. age 75 +/- 3.8 years; bodyweight 548 +/- 86 kg; height 1.67 +/- 0.07 m) were performed, and results without and with EMG analysis compared. Without EMG, myopathy and neuropathy were diagnosed in 20 and 58 horses, respectively, and with EMG in 17 and 82 horses. EMG changed localisation in myopathy and neuropathy in 12 and 37% of cases, respectively. Lesions in the C1-T2, T2-L3 and L3-S3 segments were, respectively, diagnosed without EMG in 7, 11 and 30%, and with EMG in 27, 7 and 17% of cases. Where no clinical diagnosis could be made prior to EMG, many patients appeared to be suffering from localised cervical lesions (29%) or generalised neuropathy (54%). The assistance of EMG in discriminating between normal, neuropathy and myopathy, and in locating pathology, contributes to diagnosis of neuromuscular problems.
The Trainer's View on over BendingRollkur') as a Training Aid for Dressage Competition, Workshop on the Use of over Bending ('Rollkur') in FEI Competition Towards a more objective assessment of equine personality using behavioural and physiological observations from performance test training
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Janssen, S., 2006. The Trainer's View on over Bending ('Rollkur') as a Training Aid for Dressage Competition, Workshop on the Use of over Bending ('Rollkur') in FEI Competition. FEI, Lausanne, Switzerland. König von Borstel, U., Pasing, S., Gauly, M., 2011. Towards a more objective assessment of equine personality using behavioural and physiological observations from performance test training. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 135, 277–285.
Tug of War: Classical versus 'Modern' Dressage
  • G Heuschmann
Heuschmann, G., 2007. Tug of War: Classical versus 'Modern' Dressage. Trafalgar Square Publishers, J.A. Allen, London.
Objective evaluation of the canter in Friesian horses specially used for dressage
  • J P Voskamp
  • I Hellinga
  • W Back
Voskamp, J.P., Hellinga, I., Back, W., 2012. Objective evaluation of the canter in Friesian horses specially used for dressage. Proceedings of 7th Congress of the International Conference on Equine and Canine Locomotion (ICEL), Strömsholm, Sweden, p. 105.
A retrospective analysis of high performance dressage horse head and neck angles 1979-2011
  • H Randle
  • B Venables
Randle, H., Venables, B., 2012. A retrospective analysis of high performance dressage horse head and neck angles 1979-2011. Proceedings of the 8th Congress of the International Society on Equitation Science (ISES), p 81.
Dressage Tests, Grand Prix
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FEI, 2003. Dressage Tests, Grand Prix, Edition 2003. Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), Lausanne, Switzerland.
FEI Dressage Handbook, Guidelines for Judging, Second Printing
FEI, 2007. FEI Dressage Handbook, Guidelines for Judging, Second Printing. Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), Lausanne, Switzerland.
Open Scoring during FEI Dressage Competitions
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Riexinger, G., 2003. Open Scoring during FEI Dressage Competitions. Fédération Equestre Internationale, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Dressage Tests, Grand Prix Special
FEI, 1992. Dressage Tests, Grand Prix Special, Edition 1992. Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), Lausanne, Switzerland.
Report of the FEI Veterinary and Dressage Committees' Workshop; The Use of over Bending ('Rollkur') in FEI Competition
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FEI Rules for Dressage Events
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