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Ground Reaction Forces: The Sine Qua Non of Legged Locomotion


  • Hilary M. Clayton
  • Sarah Jane Hobbs

Legged locomotion results from the feet pressing against the ground to generate ground reaction forces (GRFs) that are responsible for moving the body. By changing limb coordination patterns and muscle forces, the GRFs are adjusted to allow the horse to move in different gaits, speeds, and directions with appropriate balance and self-carriage. This article describes the typical GRF patterns in each gait, the adaptations that produce turning, and the GRF patterns used to unload the painful limb when the horse is lame. The intent is to provide information that is of practical interest and value to equine scientists rather than being a comprehensive review of the topic.