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Animals in Motion Laboratory

The Animals in Motion Laboratory develops research in the areas of animal biomechanics, exercise physiology and performance.

Group members have multispecies expertise, as well as background knowledge from research in humans. We welcome students undertaking research at both undergraduate and postgraduate level.

Back view of three people monitoring a horse with motion sensors attached, led by another person

Musculoskeletal biomechanics is the study of the mechanical laws relating the structure and function of movement of animals (including humans). It is most commonly applied to dogs and horses, but can be used to study any species from mice to elephants.

Musculoskeletal biomechanics consists of the analysis of movement (kinematics) and the forces (kinetics) that allow locomotion (jumping, trotting, flying, etc.), as well as many specialised movements and postures during activities such as respiration and feeding (e.g. mandibular movement).

We can study gait in healthy animals, geriatric animals, diseased animals, and animal athletes performing sport disciplines and training. Our research currently focuses on:

  1. Dog and horse biomechanics, particularly lameness, core strength and posture, and physiotherapy and rehabilitation.
  2. Athletic animals' exercise physiology and performance.

In doing so, we are able to:

  • Objectively quantify the effects of, and improve physiotherapy and rehabilitation treatments: performing gait analysis during rehabilitation allows us to tailor the use of physiotherapy, rehabilitation and controlled exercise programmes to each individual, directly benefiting patients.
  • Improve athletic performance: our research targets training, recovery and competition factors that support peak performance, supporting the skills development and athletic excellence of animal athletes – including humans.
  • Promote exercise and wellbeing: our research provides insights into how we can achieve and maintain optimal physical, emotional and psychological health in animal athletes, including as part of recovery from injury and illness.

We carry out indoor and outdoor studies at ARU's Writtle campus, out in the field, and at partner venues using a range of innovative equipment including:

  • Tekscan Saddle Pressure System
  • SIMI Gait Analysis
  • Quintic Gait Analysis
  • Quintic lights (canine and equine)
  • High-speed camera
  • Video cameras - camcorders and GoPro
  • Flir thermal imaging cameras
  • Goniometers
  • Polar HR & HRV monitors
  • Equimetre Arioneo
  • TeleRein rein tension measure and software
  • Equinosis
  • GaitSmart Pegasus
  • Surface EMG
  • Televet ECG

  • Dr Roberta Ferro De Godoy
  • Chloe Mabbutt
  • Susan Mooney

Clarke, K., Terry, J., Blake, S. and Godoy, R. F. (2023) 'Kinematics and kinetics of dogs walking over increasing heights of cavaletti exercise', Topics in Companion Animal Medicine (pre-print).

Hodgson, H., Blake, S. and de Godoy, R. F. (2022) 'A study using a canine hydrotherapy treadmill at five different conditions to kinematically assess range of motion of the thoracolumbar spine in dogs', Veterinary Medicine and Science. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/vms3.1067

Bliss, M., Terry, J. and de Godoy, R. F. (2022) 'Limbs kinematics of dogs exercising at different water levels on the underwater treadmill', Veterinary Medicine and Science, 8(6), pp. 2374-2381. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1002/vms3.947

Mabbutt, C., Yarnell, K. and Godoy, R. F. (2022) 'A short-term hindlimb massage programme can improve gait symmetry in riding school horses', Comparative Exercise Physiology, 18(5), pp. 419-426. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3920/CEP220022

Marlin, D., Pickles, K., Godoy, R. F. and Williams, J. (2021) 'Opening Forces or Failure of Commercially Available Equine Headcollars and Other Safety Devices', Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part P: Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology, 237(3), pp. 142-149. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1177/17543371211039610

Blake, S. and Godoy, R. F. (2021) 'Kinematics and kinetics of dogs completing jump and A-frame exercises', Comparative Exercise Physiology, 17(4), pp. 351-366. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3920/CEP200067

Blake, S., Williams, R. and Godoy, R. F. (2019) 'A Systematic Review of the Biomechanical Effects of Harness and Head-Collar use in Dogs', bioRxiv, 759258. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1101/759258

Blake, S., Hunter, A. and Godoy, R. F. (2019) 'Pressure and Force on the Canine Neck when Exercised using a Collar and Leash', Veterinary and Animal Science 8, 100082.

Rajão, M. D., Leite, C. S., Nogueira, K., Godoy, R. F. and Lima, E. M. M. (2019) 'The bone response in endurance long distance horse', Open Veterinary Journal, 9, pp. 58-64. Available at: https://doi.org/10.4314/ovj.v9i1.11