Electromyographic activity of the long digital extensor muscle in the exercising Thoroughbred horse

T. K. Cheung, L. K. Warren, L. M. Lawrence, K. N. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Surface electrodes were used to record electromyographic (EMG) activity of the long digital extensor muscle on the right hindlimb of 8 Thoroughbred horses for 8 s at the walk and 8 s at the trot before (unfatigued) and after (fatigued) an exercise test. The exercise test was performed on a motorised treadmill set on a 10% grade. Each test started at a speed of 6 m/s which was increased by 1 m/s each minute until the horse fatigued as indicated by its inability to keep pace with the treadmill with minimal encouragement Observations were made on the horses prior to conditioning (untrained state) and after 8 weeks of regular exercise (trained state). The mean root-mean-square (rms) values of EMG bursts collected in each experimental trial were determined for each horse and group means were derived from the mean of independent subjects. Statistical comparisons for differences in rmsEMG were related to gait, fatigue and training. Mean rmsEMG at the trot was consistently higher than at the walk (P<0.05). At the walk, mean fatigued rmsEMG tended to be higher than the mean unfatigued rmsEMG hi the untrained state and was significantly higher in the trained state (P<0.05). At the trot, mean fatigued rmsEMG was higher (P<0.05) than mean unfatigued rmsEMG in both the untrained and trained states. Training did not have an effect on mean rmsEMG of unfatigued muscles at the walk or the trot (P>0.05). However, fatigued muscles experienced higher EMG activity in the trained state at the walk (P<0.05). A similar tendency was observed at the trot. Results of this study suggest that surface EMG measurement may be useful for evaluating fatigue in exercising horses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-255
Number of pages5
JournalEquine Veterinary Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1998


  • Electromyography
  • Fatigue
  • Gait
  • Horse
  • Long digital extensor muscle
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Equine


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