The purpose of this study was to verify the sensitivity of 2 gait analysis methods in detecting subtle lameness and to compare the results to the traditional orthopaedic evaluation. Twenty-two horses were evaluated (1) subjectively by 3 different experienced clinicians and (2) objectively with synchronised ground reaction force and accelerometric gait measurements on a treadmill. The horses were assigned for each of the 3 methods independently to one of 3 groups (GR): sound, lameness front limb, lameness hindlimb. Additionally, for each horse, the affected limb (AL) and degree of lameness (DL) were defined. The accordance between the 3 assessment methods for the categorical variables was tested with a Spearman correlation analysis. The relationship between vertical ground reaction forces and dorsoventral as well as mediolateral accelerations were studied using a Pearson correlation matrix. Significant correlation was found between the clinical GR and GR based on force (r = 0.51, P < 0.05) and acceleration data (r = 0.47, P < 0.05), respectively, and between AL based on clinical and ground reaction force (r = 0.65, P < 0.05) assessment. No significant correlation was found, neither for GR between the 2 measuring methods, nor for DL between the 3 assessment methods. The Pearson correlation matrix revealed significant correlations between peak vertical forces and dorsoventral acceleration in the hindlimbs. We conclude that the measurement of kinetic parameters represents a helpful complementary tool in the assessment of subtle gait alterations. However, this information needs to be interpreted carefully and always related to the clinical observation.
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