The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility of surface electromyography in the horse and to correlate electromyographic activity with kinematic data. Surface electromyography of seven hindlimb muscles was recorded in five horses at trot on a treadmill. Simultaneously, kinematic analysis of the hindlimb was performed using a three-dimensional system and a unidirectional accelerometer was attached to the hoof. Electromyographic activities of the gluteus medius, vastus lateralis and two parts of the biceps femoris started in the late part of the swing phase and ended in the late period of the stance phase or the early period of the next swing phase. The semitendinosus showed two bursts of activity. The tensor fasciae latae acted when the previous muscles were inactive. Activity of the extensor digitorum longus was of low level but lasted during most of the step cycle. Correlation between electromyography, kinematics and anatomy helps us to understand the complex role of biarticular muscles: the tensor fasciae latae flexes the hip joint during the swing phase and extends the stifle joint during the stance phase, whereas the semitendinosus extends the hip joint during the stance phase and flexes the stifle joint during the swing phase. Cranial and caudal regions of the biceps femoris were also found to be bifunctional. Surface electromyography correlated with kinematic analysis gives valuable information about the functions and the timing of activity of the hindlimb muscles.
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