Horse Side Vet Guide ®

Equine Health Resource

Spine Appears Curved to Side

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

Code Yellow - Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment

  • To ensure a correct diagnosis, have your vet examine the horse.

Side to side or lateral curvature of the spine is hard to assess in horses. Simple changes in posture can shift the position of the spine within normal range making the spine appear crooked.

Some degree of spinal curvature is also not uncommon in horses that are otherwise healthy and normal. The effect of these variations is poorly understood.


If you believe your horse’s back or spine is crooked or curved, ensure that they are standing on level ground with their limbs as squarely under them as possible. Stand above and behind your horse (on a fence or block) and reevaluate their back.

Assess the horse for lameness and focus on how your horse tracks and how the limbs move. Look for reduced range of motion or a pain response when the back is pressed. Consider your horse’s performance. Is it to your expectations?

Share your findings and concerns with your vet.


Your vet tries to be as objective as possible when evaluating the back. As mentioned above, posture and positioning is key to an objective back exam. If there truly is scoliosis, the next question becomes whether it is causing a problem, and if so, what can be done about it. Other diagnostics include x-ray, ultrasound, nuclear scintigraphy and others.

Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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