Monday, April 13, 2009

Mo-Cap Video Treat: Horse and Rider in Motion, Video-Captured and Computer-Recreated

by Fran Jurga | 13 April 2009 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog

This little clip is titled A Biomechanical Analysis of Relationship Between the Head and Neck Position, Vertebral Column and Limbs in the Horse at Walk and Trot and is from the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science, at the Swedish University of Agricultural Science in Uppsala, Sweden. Thanks to researcher Marie Rhodin for sharing this little snapshot of what goes on at Uppsala.

Dr. Rhodin writes: "Reflective markers were glued onto the skin above anatomical structures defined through palpation. A high speed 3D infrared camera system (ProReflex) was used to capture data. Twelve cameras were used and a treadmill instrumented with a force measuring system was used for simultaneous, synchronized force measurements. Qualisys software was used for the motion analysis."

Dr. Rhodin's name is one that is seen quite often lately on the rosters of world-class equine biomechanics research. She was involved with two presentations at last year's International Conference on Equine Locomotion (ICEL6) in France. Working with our friend at Uppsala, Dr. Christopher Johnston, and Lars Roepstorff and Anna Byström, and collaborating with researcher Dr. Michael Weishaupt at the University of Zurich and Dr. René van Weeren at the University of Utrecht in Holland, Dr. Rhodin's team collected data on the motion of horses when the rider is in the sitting vs rising (posting) trot, and also compared the motion of the horse on each lead.

What you are seeing in this little video clip is the new generation of motion capture gait analysis--the rider gets analyzed along with the horse! The clip begins with the "real" video of the markered horse and rider; you then see the dots that the infrared cameras would "see" and translate into data. The data is then crunched and re-configured into an accurate animation of the horse and rider in skeletal form so that the movement of the bones and joints can be analyzed. This is a huge advance, since the horse is an asymmetric form and needs to be seen from all angles to get a true picture of movement. (And this is a vast over-simplification of the process.)

Through this type of motion capture, researchers can compare the effects of different equipment (Uppsala recently studied the effect of weighted boots on the movement of the back), different riders, and (one day), different surfaces. Being able to accurately record both the rider and the horse are rocketing equestrian sport science ahead. These are exciting times.

Many thanks to Dr. Rhodin and her research team at Uppsala and beyond for making the video clip available to Hoof Blog readers.

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