Mechanical loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in horses during walking and trotting

Authors: 
Jonathan S. Merritt, PhD; Marcus G. Pandy, PhD; Nicholas A. T. Brown, PhD; Colin R. Burvill, PhD; Christopher E. Kawcak, DVM, PhD; C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc, PhD, DSc; Helen M. S. Davies, PhD
Volume: 
71
Number: 
5
Pages: 
508-514
Journal: 
American Journal of Veterinary Research
Date: 
May 2010

Objective—To assess the net mechanical load on the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in horses during walking and trotting.

Animals—3 Quarter Horses and 1 Thoroughbred.

Procedures—Surface strains measured on the left third metacarpal bone of the Thorough-bred were used with a subject-specific model to calculate loading (axial compression, bending, and torsion) of the structure during walking and trotting. Forelimb kinematics and ground reaction forces measured in the 3 Quarter Horses were used with a musculoskeletal model of the distal portion of the forelimb to determine loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone.

Results—Both methods yielded consistent data regarding mechanical loading of the distal end of the third metacarpal bone. During walking and trotting, the distal end of the third metacarpal bone was loaded primarily in axial compression as a result of the sum of forces exerted on the metacarpal condyles by the proximal phalanx and proximal sesamoid bones.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Results of strain gauge and kinematic analyses indicated that the major structures of the distal portion of the forelimb in horses acted to load the distal end of the third metacarpal bone in axial compression throughout the stance phase of the stride.