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Equine asymmetry: current concepts and potential applications
  • Kirsty Lesniak,
  • Hayley Randle,
  • Matthew Parker
Kirsty Lesniak
Hartpury University and Hartpury College

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Hayley Randle
Charles Sturt University School of Agricultural Environmental and Veterinary Sciences
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Matthew Parker
University of Surrey
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Asymmetry in horses has been suggested as an indicator of genetic quality, affecting disease resistance and performance potential. This review argues that equine bilateral trait asymmetries do not correlate with the directionality of competitive disciplines or selective breeding practices. The presence of similar limb asymmetries in both competitive and non-competitive horses strongly suggests a species-wide trait, with horses with superior athletic ability exhibiting fewer asymmetries. While limb asymmetries may not severely impact biomechanical function, they may indicate underlying physiological or anatomical problems. The review will suggest to readers several research questions that will help to understand the development of limb and hoof asymmetries, their effect on horse welfare and performance, and the factors contributing to these imbalances.