Kinesiotape Application to Equine Hock Joints: Impact on Lameness and Movement Evaluation

Project Abstract

Kinesiotape Application to Equine Hock Joints: Impact on Lameness and Movement Evaluation

K. Jones*, A. Graves*, A. Dodd, and S. Porr

Joint and muscle pain can result in lameness or altered gaits, which has a negative impact on performance in any species. On horses, the hock joint is a large joint in the middle of the back leg of the horse. Anatomically, this functions similarly to the ankle on a human. The fetlock joint lies below the hock. Discomfort in the hocks or fetlocks can interfere with movement, resulting in lameness. Diagnosis is typically made by a veterinarian who evaluates the movement of the horse or uses methods such as radiography or ultrasound. Treatment methods and times vary depending on the diagnosis, but often include joint injections, medications and stall rest. These treatments can be costly in terms of price and time off from practice or competition. Alternative practices such as using kinesiotape (k-tape) to support joints in horses with joint pain may improve comfort and movement without the need for costlier treatments. The objective of this project is to evaluate the effects of placing k-tape on hock joints in horses. It is hypothesized that treated horses will show 1) fewer signs of pain as evaluated by a veterinarian using flexion testing and a lameness locator; 2) increased temperature as assessed by a thermal camera in hocks that have been taped; and 3) more normal hock and fetlock joint movement as assessed through biomechanical evaluation using video analysis software.

Twelve riding horses owned by Murray State University and previously diagnosed with hock-related lameness will be divided into a control (CON, n=6) and treatment group (TRT, n=6). Horses will be evaluated by a licenced veterinarian using flexion testing and a lameness locator (Equinosis Q with Lameness Locator, Columbia, MO, USA), which uses inertial sensing technology to detect alterations in movement. Flexion testing will be performed before taping (PRE, n=12), immediately after taping (IMPost, n=6), and approximately 5-days post (LTPost, n=12). Only taped horses will be flexed for IMPost data collection. The lameness locator will be used to collect data on all horses at the PRE and LTPost times. Results from the PRE flexion test and lameness locator data collection will be used to divide the horses into CON or TRT groups based on the degree of lameness diagnosed that day. Other evaluations will include use of a thermal imaging camera to detect changes in surface blood flow on the hock, and video recordings will be analyzed using software (Dartfish 360, Alpharetta, GA, USA) to measure biomechanical movement of the hock and fetlock joints. Thermal imaging data will be collected on the hock joints of all 12 horses PRE, 30 minutes after taping (30MPost), once daily, and LTPost. Finally, horse movement at the trot will be recorded by video camera PRE (n=12), IMPost (n=6), and LTPost (n=12). It is expected that the study will be completed by March 2021.

Funding Type

Research Grant

Academic College

Jesse D. Jones College of Science, Engineering and Technology


Pre-Veterinary Medicine


Bachelors in Agriculture




Shea Porr, PhD

Academic College

Hutson School of Agriculture

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