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


Front Limbs Spread, Wide Stance


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.

  • 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.

your role


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 Not To Do

Do not attempt to move your horse if they are very reluctant to do so, or they seem unsteady on their feet.

your vet's role

Your vet assesses a horse with postural abnormalities using physical and neurologic exams.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Has the horse been vaccinated recently?
  • Have you changed your horse's feed or management lately?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Have you given the horse any medications?
  • Are you confident that this is a new problem?
  • 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
more treatments

Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP