Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Front Limbs Spread, Wide Stance

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 this problem seems severe and has come on suddenly.
  • If the behavior is persistent and the horse seems to be distressed.
  • If you notice apparent wobbliness or weakness, in addition to this sign.
  • 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 horse seems to be moving freely, and has a normal appetite and attitude.
  • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

Normal posture requires an intact nervous system. Abnormal placement of a limb or multiple limbs at rest generally means that the horse’s nervous system does not “know” where the limb in question is placed.

This is a rare observation that generally indicates that a horse is unsteady and having difficulty standing due to a neurologic condition or more rarely, a condition causing lameness. Horses in shock from a variety of causes can also take this posture.

WHAT TO DO

Assess your horse’s general health using the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and look for other signs of illness or injury. Especially note rectal temperature, evaluate for digital pulse and heat in the feet, and walk the horse in circles to both directions, looking for hesitation, wobbliness, or lameness. Assess attitude and appetite by offering a handful of tasty hay.

Share your findings and concerns with your vet. Be careful, because a horse that takes this stance can easily fall down.

WHAT YOUR VET DOES

Your vet assesses a horse with postural abnormalities using physical and neurologic exams.

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP

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