Reasons for performing study: Recent research indicates that the digital joints experience some degree of extrasagittal motion during stance and that the moments under the hoof are asymmetric in horses walking in a straight line. On a circle, these have not been defined.
Objectives: To quantify the amplitude and symmetry of horizontal twisting moments around the vertical axis through the hoof's centre of pressure on left and right circles at walk.
Methods: Six Thoroughbred horses were led at walk across a Kistler force platform on a left and a right circle of 5 m radius. The resultant moment around the hoof was calculated from the 4 horizontal forces and their moment arms.
Results: Five of the 6 horses exerted an internal moment around their left forehoof, and 4 exerted an internal moment around their right forehoof on the left circle. On the right circle, 5 of the 6 exerted an internal moment around the left forehoof and a weak external moment around the right forehoof. The moments under the hind hooves were bilaterally similar for right and left circles.
Conclusion: Intrahorse variability in the applied moments is low, but there is some interhorse variability, especially in the forelimb moments, that indicates future studies of movements of the distal limb joints should be bilateral to account for mechanical asymmetry.
Potential relevance: The finding that horizontal moments vary between forelimbs in some horses will apply to how exercise on a circle is approached, especially in rehabilitation programmes for horses with orthopaedic injury of the distal limb.