Science & Equine

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The synchronization of ventilation and locomotion in horses

It has been observed that some running and hopping animals synchronize their ventilation and locomotion. Horses, dogs and hares all take exactly one breath per stride when they canter and gallop. Hopping wallabies show a similar relationship.

While galloping they seem to increase their speed and respiration by lengthening their stride and increasing their tidal volume. This suggest that a resonant mechanism may be operating. 

Bony landmarks on the ilium, sacrum and abdomen where used to calculate the back movement. The autors of the study found that flexion of the back probably contributes considerably towards the driving of breathing. 

> From: Young et al., Journal of Experimental Biology 166 (1992) 19-31. All rights reserved to Company of Biologists. Click here for the online summary.

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