Longeing’s Potential Effects on Equine Joints

Is frequent circular exercise linked to osteoarthritis?

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Many people longe as a regular part of their training program, and often the speed at which these horses are exercised is likely great enough to cause damage. | Photo: iStock

Q. Does frequent longeing (or even just longeing in general) have any negative effects on a horse’s joints? ​

A. While anecdotal evidence exists to support a relationship between circular exercise and joint disease, there is a dearth of controlled studies examining such and, thus, recommendations to the industry can only be made hesitantly.

At Michigan State University we will soon be starting a project designed to quantify how much damage is done depending on the size of the circle and the speed at which an animal is exercised. Why is this a concern? When horses are exercised on a turn, the size of the load-bearing surface gets reduced substantially, with a corresponding increase in load on the load-bearing part of the joint surface

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Written by:

Brian Nielsen, PhD, MS, PAS, Dipl. ACAN, is an animal science professor at Michigan State University, where he teaches senior level courses in equine exercise physiology and advanced horse management. His research interests include equine exercise physiology, young horse development, and nutrition.

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