Walk-run classification of symmetrical gaits in the horse: a multidimensional approach

Starke, S D and Robilliard, J J and Weller, R and Wilson, A M and Pfau, T (2009) Walk-run classification of symmetrical gaits in the horse: a multidimensional approach. JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY INTERFACE, 6 (33). pp. 335-342.

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Walking and running are two mechanisms for minimizing energy expenditure during terrestrial locomotion. Duty factor, dimensionless speed, existence of an aerial phase, percentage recovery (PR) or phase shift of mechanical energy and shape of the vertical ground reaction force profile have been used to discriminate between walking and running. Although these criteria work well for the classification of most quadrupedal gaits, they result in conflicting evidence for some gaits, such as the tolt (a symmetrical, four-beat gait used by Icelandic horses). We use established pattern recognition methods to test the hypothesis that the tolt is a running gait based on an automated and optimized decision drawn from four features (dimensionless speed, duty factor, length of aerial phase and PR for over 6000 strides from four symmetrical gaits in seven Icelandic horses) simultaneously. We compare this decision with the use of each of these features in isolation. Sensitivity and specificity values were used to determine optimal thresholds for classifying tolt strides based on each feature separately. Duty factor and dimensionless speed indicate that tolt is more similar to running, while aerial phase and PR indicate that it is more similar to walking. Then, two multidimensional pattern recognition approaches, multivariate Gaussian densities and linear discriminant analysis, were used and it was shown that, in terms of stochastic multidimensional discrimination, tolt is more similar to 'running'. The approaches presented here have potential to be extended to studies on similar 'ambling' gaits in other quadrupeds.

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