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Diagnosis
Conditions or ailments that are the cause of a problem that you see - your observation.

Your vet may diagnose

Shivers

Summary

Shivers is a poorly understood neuromuscular disorder of the hind limbs. A classic case of Shivers is most obvious when a horse backs up; their hind limbs raise in an exaggerated fashion and the limbs stay raised, hyper-flexed, and quiver and tremble. In more advanced cases, this disorder becomes obvious in a horse at rest or in forward motion. In some cases, horses abnormally twitch or move their ears and eyes.

It is most common in draft breeds, and is generally more common in male horses of tall build.

There are various theories about what causes this condition. Recent research suggests a potential defect in the cerebellum of the brain. Other studies suggest problems with the muscle cells of affected horses.

Diagnosis is by examination, a horse that displays the typical movement abnormalities.

There is no treatment for this disorder. Some horses improve on a high fat, low carbohydrate diet.

my vet's role

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OTHER DIAGNOSES CONSIDERED

Other conditions or ailments that might also need to be ruled out by a vet.

Very Common
Less Common
Rare
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PROGNOSIS AND RELEVANT FACTORS

The prognosis varies widely and depends on the individual case. In mild cases, some horses may still be able to perform. However, sometimes the signs tend to worsen over time. Shivers is more common in tall, male horses.

my role

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I might observe

You might make these observations when a horse has this condition.

Very Common
Less Common
Rare
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Questions To Ask Your Vet:
  • Can I make management or feeding changes to improve the signs of this condition in my horse?
  • Can my horse still perform?
Prevention

At purchase, select horses without signs of this disorder.

further reading & resources


Related References:

Draper AC1, Trumble TN, Firshman AM, Baird JD, Reed S, Mayhew IG, Mackay R, Valberg SJ. Posture and movement characteristics of forward and backward walking in horses with shivering and acquired bilateral stringhalt. Equine Vet J. 2014

Draper AC1, Bender JB, Firshman AM, Baird JD, Reed S, Mayhew IG, Valberg SJ. Epidemiology of shivering (shivers) in horses. Equine Vet J. 2014 May 6. .

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP