Many care practitioners rely on academic studies performed in a scientifically rigorous way to test questions related to animal health and procedures, including taping. This study, published originally in 2004, is part of a large body of research on horse fetlock movement and physics (kinematics).
The study wanted to look at whether athletic taping, which is common in human athletes for stability and support of soft tissue, could also have beneficial effects on fetlock movement. The authors of this paper worked with experienced athletic trainers and 6 healthy horses under supervision, hoping to benefit from the experience in forelimb movement that athletic trainers have from their professional backgrounds. The authors wanted to see if taping could:
- reduce hyperextension of the fetlock joint during stance
- reduce flexion of the fetlock during swing movement
- reduce ground reaction forces on the joint during stance
Healthy horses trotted at 3 meters per second for 4 sequential conditions (baseline, untaped; pre-exercise, taped; post-exercise, taped post 30 mins trotting exercise; transfer, 4 hours after tape removal).
The authors found that taping affected the fetlock during the swing phase where peak flexion was reduced from 157to 172 +/- 4 degrees; with taping, compared with no differences in flexion for other joints. Peak vertical force was also reduced significantly with taping.
While the authors did not find that athletic taping of the fetlock altered the kinematics of the forelimb during stance, reduced fetlock flexion during the swing phase and decreased peak vertical force may be helpful in preventing or reducing injury.
Reference: Equine Vet J. 2004 Dec;36(8):764-8. Ramón T1, Prades M, Armengou L, Lanovaz JL, Mullineaux DR, Clayton HM.
Abstract Available Here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15656512