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Gait Analysis

Pioneers in Gait Analysis — Understanding a Horse’s “Way of Going”

(this 10 min video was made in the year 2000, 22 years ago — the prices at the auction have changed since then (!) but the way of going of a racehorse has not.)

As pioneers in Thoroughbred gait research for over 30 years, we assess patterns associated with certain performance characteristics, such as those of high earners and distance runners. [copies of some of our research published in prestigious refereed scientific journals are available for download from this web site’s home page.]  

Important gait differences in gaits occur in time intervals impossible to see with the naked eye, or even with regular video. Hence, at virtually every major Thoroughbred auction, EQB captures each horse with high quality, ultra slow-motion films digitized to hundreds of pictures per second.

That cataloged footage allows for the close analysis of movement based on the biomechanics of quadruped locomotion: stride length, way of going, energy expended, angles of legs, shoulder, neck and joint positions, hoof flight patterns, etc. Comparison with our data on the best horses in recent decades offers a critical measure of a horse’s performance potential and EQB’s exceptionally incisive brand of gait analysis also aids culling and injury prevention.

As Jeff Seder says of young prospects, “I don’t care how fast they go, I care how they go fast.”

The Legacy of Eadweard Muybridge

Eadweard Muybridge started it all as the original pioneer in gait analysis way back in 1878

Over a hundred years ago, Eadweard Muybridge became the pioneer of slow-motion photography used for motion analysis. In order to settle a wager between former Governor of California Leland Stanford and other millionaire horse owners on whether during a horse’s gallop all four hooves were ever off the ground at the same time. Stanford sought out Muybridge who was a photographer of note. Muybridge felt that the sensible solution was to record the way of going and analyze it through slow-motion so he developed a process for instantaneous motion picture capture.

Today, EQB utilizes slow-motion films digitized for analytical purposes based on the biomechanics of quadruped locomotion. Gait analysis consists of a close look at stride length; way of going; energy expended; angles of legs; shoulder, neck and joint positions; hoof flight patterns, etc.

Important gait differences occur in time intervals impossible to see with the naked eye, or even with regular video. For over 30 years, EQB has used slow-motion video and photography (hundreds of pictures per second are required to do this correctly) to film thousands of unraced, young Thoroughbred horses at racing speeds at major racetracks around the world.

EQB continues to invest heavily in time and equipment in order to set high standards for gait analysis, and our scientific published papers and results are available upon request.