Wearable Inertial Sensor-Based Limb Lameness Detection and Pose Estimation for Horses

Tarik Yigit, Feng Han, Ellen Rankins, Jingang Yi, Kenneth H. McKeever, Karyn Malinowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Accurate objective, automated limb lameness detection and pose estimation play an important role for animal well-being and precision livestock farming. We present a wearable sensor-based limb lameness detection and pose estimation for horse walk and trot locomotion. The gait event and lameness detection are first built on a recurrent neural network (RNN) with long short-term memory (LSTM) cells. Its outcomes are used in the limb pose estimation. A learned low-dimensional motion manifold is parameterized by a phase variable with a Gaussian process dynamic model. We compare the RNN-LSTM-based lameness detection method with a feature-based multi-layer classifier (MLC) and a multi-class classifier (MCC) that are built on support vector machine/K-nearest-neighbors and deep convolutional neural network methods, respectively. Experimental results show that using only accelerometer measurements, the RNN-LSTM-based approach achieves 95% lameness detection accuracy and also outperforms the feature-based MLC or MCC in terms of several assessment criteria. The pose estimation scheme can predict the 24 limb joint angles in the sagittal plane with average errors less than 5 and 10 degs under normal and induced lameness conditions, respectively. The presented work demonstrate the successful use of machine learning techniques for high performance lameness detection and pose estimation in equine science. Note to Practitioners - Automation technologies are increasingly used for precision agriculture but few have focused on monitoring individual animals in open field for precision livestock farming. Limb lameness detection and pose estimation in open field is labor-intensive, unsafe for farmers, and inefficient. The presented machine learning-enabled, wearable inertial sensor-based design provides an effective and efficient approach for horse limb lameness detection and pose estimation applications. We present an RNN-LSTM for lameness detection and an integrated manifold learning model is used to predict the horse limb joint angles in walk and trot gaits under normal and induced lameness conditions. We also present a systematic analysis and experiments to demonstrate the impacts of the wearable sensor locations and signal information on lameness detection and pose estimation performance. Several other machine learning-based lameness detection methods are also presented and compared. The extensive multi-horse testing results are presented to demonstrate the superior accuracy and higher performance than other types of machine learning methods. One attractive feature of the proposed design lies in its high performance and fast computational capability for potential real-time applications in open field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1365-1379
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


  • Equine gait analysis
  • inertial measurement units
  • lameness detection
  • machine learning
  • pose estimation


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