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


Foal or Newborn, Spastic Motions with Head


I sometimes receive calls from people new to breeding and foaling, who are concerned that their newborn foal is making spastic motions with its head (jerking head movements). This is normal newborn behavior that gradually lessens over weeks to months. Handling may cause this to be really obvious.

Rarely, congenital neurologic conditions in newborns can cause exaggerated head jerking and head tremors. Foals afflicted with these conditions in most cases, are expected to show other signs of a problem, like wobbliness or weakness.

  • Code Green

    Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources
    • If the foal appears otherwise normal, i.e. is active and nursing normally.

your role


What To Do

Assess the overall health of the foal, paying particular attention to their nursing behavior and movement. Young foals should always nurse vigorously and be bright and alert. Share your vet with your findings and concerns.

your vet's role

By evaluating the foal, or even a video of the foal's behavior, your vet will likely know whether there is cause for concern.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Was the delivery normal?
  • How old is the foal?
  • How much experience do you have with the foaling process?
  • Did the foal stand and nurse normally after foaling?
  • Does the foal appear healthy otherwise?
  • What are the results of the foal exam?

further reading & resources

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP