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Saturday, April 03, 2010

Dr Hilary Clayton's 2010 Equinology Biomechanics and Gait Analysis Class: April 5 Deadline!

3 April 2010 | Fran Jurga's Hoof Blog at

The McPhail Center at Michigan State is one of the world's few research centers dedicated to researching the science of equine performance--from the ground up. Any number of research projects on aspects of equine movement, conformation or sport performance may be simultaneously underway under the direction of Dr. Hilary Clayton.

It's 30 days and counting until it is time to join us at Michigan State University for the special four-day course in equine biomechanics and lameness at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine’s Mary Anne McPhail Equine Performance Center, presented by Dr. Hilary Clayton. The course is offered through the Equinology study program.

But the deadline to let Equinology know you want to attend is NOW.

“This is a rare opportunity to see the McPhail Center from the inside,” Dr. Clayton told me last week. “One of the things people might not expect is that we’ll be working on neck and back dissections, and looking at some pathologies.

For 3-D motion analysis, horses' joints must be palpated and markers applied to the centers of joint rotation. A marker out of place can ruin a lengthy evaluation session.

“For the most part," she continued, "the students will have the chance to perfect their palpation skills, and to learn how to place markers in the centers of joint rotation. Using our equipment, a student will be able to see the effects of placing the marker in the wrong place, versus the right place, and the effect it can have on evaluating a horse.”

In addition to covering biomechanics, conformation, and gait analysis in a classroom format, students will be privy to summaries of current research from around the world, as well as from the McPhail lab.

Built-in force plates in the McPhail Center's arena can be used to determine loading and landing patterns and the location of the center of pressure on horses standing in place (or piaffing in place) or worked on a circle.
Of special interest is the Center’s new coordinated system of six force plates. They are positioned for working horses within an arena, under the footing, in a circle or for standing the horse, so that one foot is on each force plate. “We use this system in research; a recent study tested posture and balance in foals,” Dr Clayton remarked.

Another research project in progress at the McPhail Center is evaluating the use of side reins on horses: how do they affect the horse’s center of mass, particularly in different sizes and types of horses?

Students will also learn about a special saddle developed and tested through the McPhail Center for use in therapeutic riding.

Many hoof blog readers will be interested in Dr Clayton’s research on what is called simply “barefoot trimming” at Michigan State. Dr. Clayton’s recent study tracked the changes in feet maintained using a simply set of parameters; her documentation found that as the heels were consistently lowered, they did migrate caudally and that the palmar (or plantar) angle of the coffin bone increased proportionately.

One of Equinology's superb "illustrated horses", courtesy of Debranne Pattillo

Dr. Clayton's research center equipment includes a motion analysis system, AMTI force plate, Noraxon EMG system, Pliance saddle pressure pad and other custom equipment for making measurements of horses and riders. This course will help sharpen your eye for irregularities, asymmetries and gait abnormalities through a variety of formats utilized in today’s industry. Your own visual appreciation of horse movement and your acumen for sensing abnormalities will be supported--and tested--by equipment used in the lab.

For more information on research projects at the McPhail Center, please click here.

Class Outline: Gait analysis and evaluation guideline, utilizing the data from the research equipment in the real world, conformation evaluation, locating palpation points for segment and angle measurements, analysis of conformation, anatomy and terminology, history of biomechanics, biomechanical techniques, equipometry discussion.

About Dr Clayton: Hilary Clayton BVMS, PhD, MRCVS has been the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University's College of Veterinary Medicine since July, 1997. As a veterinarian and researcher, Dr. Clayton's studies on the biomechanics of equine gait have focused on sport horses, including dressage and jumping horses. Some recent work has included videographic studies of Olympic dressage and jumping events and kinematic and kinetic research with some of the world's top dressage riders and horses in the Netherlands. She is also the author of The Dynamic Horse and Conditioning Sport Horses and co-author of Activate Your Horse’s Core, Equine Locomotion and Clinical Anatomy of the Horse. Dr. Clayton needs no introduction when “biomechanics” is mentioned; she is one of the leading international specialists in the subject, particularly in the anatomy and function of the equine hoof and limb.

Fees: The cost of the course is $995 (about $250 per day) and that fee includes course handouts and supplies. A $200 deposit is required to enroll.

An additional weekend course in equine lameness with Dr Barb Crabbe is being offered for the days immediately preceding the four-day course.

For full course details, please visit the Equinology website and click onto EQ300 or cut and paste this address: (Dr. Clayton) and the EQ600 details can be found at: (Dr. Crabbe).

Join your Hoofcare & Lameness/Hoof Blog editor in this very special class. It could be the most important thing you do to jump-start your career in the direction of the future of equine lameness and hoof science. Get a head start: find out where this world of ours is going. See you there!

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