What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Seems Dazed or Confused


The outer layer of the brain, the cerebral cortex, is responsible for much of the non-reflexive behavior seen in any animal. Any condition affecting the brain may thus cause changes in behavior. In addition, natural rhythms like the estrus cycle may contribute to changing behavior.

Horses that seem dazed or confused may have neurologic disease.

  • Code Orange

    Call Your Vet at Their First Available Office Hours
  • Code Yellow

    Contact Your Vet at Your Convenience for an Appointment
    • If the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE) suggest the horse is otherwise normal.

your role


What To Do

If safe to do so, try to determine whether this behavior is significant by asking the horse to engage in an activity that requires coordinated neurologic activity. Interact with the horse, offer the horse some feed, walk it in a circle or over an obstacle, and monitor its responses. Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not attempt to handle a horse exhibiting this behavior if it does not seem safe to do so.

your vet's role

Your vet will perform a physical and neurological exam on the horse and, depending on their findings, may recommend additional diagnostics.

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.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • When did you first notice this behavior?
  • How is the horse's attitude and appetite?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP