Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Head in Corner or Against Wall, Head Pressing

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

Code Red - Call Your Vet Immediately, Even Outside Business Hours

  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) in the resting horse indicate fever (Temp >101F/38.3C) or heart rate greater than 48 BPM.

Code Orange - Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours

  • If the signs are more intermittent and mild.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Horses that are depressed or experiencing abdominal pain (colic) will often stand with their head in the corner of their stall. In contrast, this observation refers to a horse that is actually pressing their head firmly and compulsively against a wall. This is rare behavior, and is usually associated with severe neurologic (brain) disease.

Horses showing true head pressing will usually show other signs of brain disease such as depression, loss of appetite, wobbliness, apparent blindness, among others. Horses that are dying of other causes, such as intestinal rupture, for instance, will also engage in this behavior.

If safe to do so, assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE). Halter the horse and try to get it to walk. Assess its ability to walk. Test appetite by offering a small amount of palatable feed. Contact your vet with your findings and concerns.

Your vet starts with a physical and neurologic assessment. Blood work may be indicated. Horses in liver failure show this sign, and blood work can be diagnostic for liver disease.

NOTE: This observation is associated with Rabies, which is very rare in horses but does occur. As a precaution, wear gloves when handling a horse exhibiting this sign.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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