About Equine Wobblers Syndrome

Equine Lameness or Equine Wobblers Syndrome

Is your horse lame, or is he/she showing clinical signs of a horse with neurological deficits? Clinical signs of equine lameness can include any of the following:

  • Head nodding

  • Hip drop/hiking

  • Shortened anterior stride

  • Abnormal stance of pointing or resting

  • Response to pressure on the back

A horse with equine neurological deficits, equine wobbler syndrome, can have clinical signs that include any of the following:

  • Abnormal wear of toes

  • Unusual sores on front heels from over-reaching

  • Excessive movement of the tail when trotting

  • Bunny hopping when cantering in pasture

  • Excessive knuckling of hind legs when stopping

  • Outward rotation of hind toes going uphill

  • Hypermetric front legs when the head is elevated

  • Displays an uneven, spastic, and exaggerated gate

  • Has a delay in backing

  • A stiff neck or dull skin test reaction

  • Will stand with his/her legs abnormally placed

  • Reluctant to perform and refusal to enter a show ring or the race track

Have you noticed any of these neurological signs in your horse? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you should read further about equine lameness, equine neurological deficits, and equine wobblers syndrome, then consult with your veterinarian for further diagnosis. To get an accurate treatment plan, there are many steps in diagnosing equine wobblers.

The successful treatment of cervical spinal cord problems needs an aggressive action plan to get a complete and accurate diagnosis as soon as possible.

  • To start the process, a neurological exam is the first step in diagnosing your horse.

  • After a neurological exam is completed, the next step will be standing cervical radiographs to help evaluate the cervical spine for fractures, congenital malformations, and narrowed spinal canals. The radiographs can be measured for cord ratios, which can suggest a narrowing spinal canal. If your veterinarian suspects a narrowing, then a myelogram will be suggested.

    With the widespread use of digital radiography, it is not always necessary to refer to a university or referral center. There are many qualified field veterinarians who have experience doing myelograms.

  • A myelogram is performed under general anesthesia to check compression of the spinal cord.

  • During the myelogram, samples will be taken for lab testing. A CSF sample is sent to the lab for analysis. A blood & CSF sample should be sent for an EPM titer as well as for viral titers. A series of blood samples can be taken to test vitamin E levels.

  • A nuclear scan is another test that is often recommended on subtle neurological cases that have performance issues, especially if the cervical radiographs show arthritic changes.

Equine Wobbler Syndrome original diagnosis Doctor Barrie Grant Veterinarian