Reasons for performing study: Postural balance can be quantified using stabilographic variables derived from force plate data that describe movements of the horse's centre of pressure (COP) in the horizontal plane. Most force plates are not large enough to accommodate all 4 limbs of a standing horse, so the study was designed to assess whether representative stabilographic data could be collected from the forelimbs or hindlimbs.
Objective: To determine whether stabilographic data from either the forelimbs or the hindlimbs were representative of data for the total body.
Methods: Stabilographic data (960 Hz) were collected from 17 sound horses standing with the forelimbs and the hindlimbs on separate force plates. To increase variability in the data, horses were of different sizes, the recording duration was varied (15–60 s) and data were collected under sighted and blindfolded conditions.
Results: Correlation matrices indicated that total body stabilographic variables were highly significantly correlated with both forelimb and hindlimb data but correlation coefficients were higher for forelimb data. Forward stepwise regression selected forelimb data for inclusion in the model for 15/16 variables, the exception being mean absolute mediolateral velocity.
Conclusions: Ground reaction force data from a pair of limbs, preferably the forelimbs, can be used to measure variables that represent total body postural balance in sound standing horses.
Potential relevance: Stabilographic data from either the forelimbs or hindlimbs may be useful for detecting and quantifying deficiencies in postural balance in ataxic horses.