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[RC] Trot question for the engineers - jpascu

Thanks Dot. This is a great question.
We have to be careful when we get too enamored with our analyzing a body using mechanics. Mechanics breaks down when describing a living body, because that living body includes an incredible control system that will keep it energetically efficient. (I admit to the bias of an electronics engineer.)
I have a "philosophy" about bodies and how they move/stand. That is, that the body will always be in it's most energetically efficient place at any time. This doesn't mean that the body can't become more efficient (if it did I wouldn't have a job) but that at the time it is in it's most efficient place. This is why a horse will "put" a rider on a particular posting lead, it's more efficient for the horse, or less painful...
I was going to suggest that, from a "power point" that the having the foot on the ground longer would be more efficient, but in both cases you present one can assume a 50% duty cycle--which is the most efficient for the body--and that cleans the slate. (I assume that each horse will have the foot in the air as long as it has it on the ground. That's the 50% duty cycle.)
From an anatomic view I thought about the use of different muscles--which is what I think contributes to the body's decision to position the leg--and whether that would be less efficient since more muscles are used... I don't think that's a valid way to answer your question. Moving the leg out would require the use of the abductors more than letting the leg simply move forward on a straight line. But this could be accomplished with using the lateral quad more and the medial less in protraction. On the retraction end it would mean that the semi-tendinosus and biceps femoris, two hamstrings would be used more.
I don't know! Great question.
Jim Pascucci
Advanced Rolfer
Author of Equine Structural Integration: Myofascial Release Manual
From: "Dot Wiggins" <dotwgns@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [RC]    Trot question for the engineers

Horses have different  ways of moving at the big trot.   Some spread their
hind legs to the outside and may even pass the fronts during the stride.
Some stride directly in line with the front leg flight path. From a
> a "power" point, which do you feel is more efficient?    Pushing off
with the hinds directly in line with forward motion, or pushing off from a
line outside the body mass?
Which is apt to use the "top line" muscle/bone structure with the least
I've watched a lot of horses, and ridden a few, with both actions and have
some feelings about it.  Just wondering what othe rs thin k when selecting a
horse for endurance..