Starting young: Newborn foals found with pelvic asymmetries

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A study of newborn foals has found that even at a young age, horses can suffer from pelvic asymmetry.

The study, by McTimoney Animal Practitioner Rebecca Stroud, was among three presented at international conferences in recent months by McTimoney Animal Practitioners.

The McTimoney technique aligns and balances the animal’s musculoskeletal system, benefiting back, neck, pelvic and musculoskeletal problems.

Triplicate measures of the left and right tuber coxae height were taken vertically from the dorsal aspect to level ground of ten healthy subjects whose hind feet were no further than 5cm out of alignment.
Triplicate measures of the left and right tuber coxae height in foals were taken vertically from the dorsal aspect to level ground.

Stroud’s study looked at the prevalence and progression of pelvic axial rotations among newborn foals.

The importance of symmetry and musculoskeletal well-being in the ridden horse is widely acknowledged, but there is little research to ascertain the incidence of pelvic asymmetry and factors which may predispose to this occurring.

McTimoney Animal Practitioner Rebecca Stroud.
McTimoney Animal Practitioner Rebecca Stroud.

This study found that pelvic asymmetries may be present in newborn foals, or develop very early in life. It also found positive evidence of pelvic axial asymmetry from birth to 8-9 weeks of age in foals.

Triplicate measures of the left and right tuber coxae height were taken vertically from the dorsal aspect to level ground of 10 healthy subjects comprising four colts and six fillies, whose hind feet were no further than 5cm out of alignment.

Measures were taken at three time periods: 0-1 week; 4-5 weeks and 8-9 weeks of age using two laser measures. Between the first and second data collection foals experienced their first turnout.

Stroud found that there was a “significant presence” of axial rotation of the pelvis (pelvic asymmetry) within 0-1 at up to a week of age in foals, and with little change in the asymmetries up to nine weeks of age, suggesting the turnout did not have an effect on the misalignment.

Another finding was that foals from mares who gave birth standing up displayed significantly greater asymmetry of the pelvis in the first week, when compared to foals of mares who gave birth in a recumbent position.

A preliminary study by Eulalia Speaight investigated the effects of head and neck position during feeding on the alignment of the cervical vertebrae in horses. The method of feeding hay to horses (floor, haynet, haybar) affects the head and neck position every day.

Results from this study suggested an effect on the musculoskeletal system, with notable differences in areas of muscle tension which may imply a link between how horses are fed and their musculoskeletal health, particularly in the neck area.

McTimoney Animal Practitioners don’t work on just horses and dogs, though; another study, by Jan Selfridge, used African safari elephants to look at whether carrying a rider – or multiple riders – affected the weight bearing on joint and limb segment angles in fore and hind limbs of ridden elephants.

The results showed that the presence of riders significantly influenced a greater number of limb segments and joint angles in mid-stance than the presence of just a saddle. Selfridge therefore concluded that the presence of rider weight influences limb kinematics in elephants indicating compensation for weight bearing and the potential for musculoskeletal compromise. The use of a saddle may modify the potential for musculoskeletal compromise.

In the elephant kinematics study, self-adhesive retro-reflective markers were attached at ten anatomical locations.
In the elephant kinematics study, self-adhesive retro-reflective markers were attached in 10 places.

Research often throws up more questions that those it answers and it is important to carry out ongoing studies of all possible factors which affect or influence equine health and wellbeing – it is only by pushing the frontiers of knowledge, that animals can be as healthy and perform as successfully as possible.

All members of the McTimoney Animal Association are qualified after training with the premier institution of its kind, the McTimoney College in Abingdon, having studied up to three years at postgraduate level attaining an MSc or Post Graduate Diploma in Animal Manipulation.

McTimoney Animal Practitioners are registered with the McTimoney Animal Association.

www.mctimoney-animal.org.uk

A preliminary study to investigate the prevalence and progression of pelvic axial rotations among neonate foals
Stroud R., Ellis J., Hunnisett A., Cunliffe C. (2016)
Journal of veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research Sept/Oct 2016; Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology. 7 (5) Proceedings of the 3rd International Veterinary Congress OMICS International

A preliminary study on the effects of head and neck position during feeding on the alignment of the cervical vertebrae in horses
Speaight E., Routledge N., Charlton S., Cunliffe C. (2016)
Journal of veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research Sept/Oct 2016

When it comes to back care, size really doesn’t matter. In African safari elephants, does carrying a rider – or multiple riders -impact on musculoskeletal integrity?
Selfridge J., Hedderley S., Charlton S., Cunliffe C. (2016)
Journal of Veterinary Science & Technology. 7 (5) Proceedings of the 3rd International Veterinary Congress OMICS International

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