Trotting Over Poles Can Have Exercise, Therapeutic Benefits
Michigan State University researchers recently conducted a pair of studies to analyze and compare the way a horse’s legs and joints move during the “swing” phase (when the leg is carried forward through the air) and the “stance” phase (when the hoof is grounded and the leg is bearing weight), both over level ground and over poles.
Study author Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, MRCVS, said many trainers use work with ground poles to improve horses’ technical skills, while veterinarians and therapists use poles to rehabilitate horses from injury or neurologic conditions.
“Therapists use hoof-eye coordination exercises to rehabilitate horses after neurological diseases,” said Clayton. “These include walking and trotting over, around, or between poles or other obstacles. The challenge for the horse is to see the objects, plan where to put his feet, then use neuromotor control to place the feet
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