While out on your regular ride, you notice that your horse seems a little clumsier than usual, tripping over sticks and stumbling.? You put it down to him being lazy, but notice it?s becoming a common pattern.? Should you be concerned?
Many horses with spinal problems will exhibit signs of clumsiness as they are being ridden.? In particular, Wobbler syndrome occurs when the spinal vertebrae have been compressed.? This causes nerve damage resulting in the horse being unable to know where their limbs are positioned.?? This syndrome can be seen in all horses, regardless of age, breed, or gender, but seems to most often crop up in male horses of fast growing breeds, such as Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses.? It can affect the front legs or the back.
If you suspect that your horse might be suffering from this syndrome, it is important to call your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis.? Wobbler is sometimes confused with the neurological disease, equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), which causes muscle wasting, facial paralysis, and behavioral changes.? In order to properly diagnose, your veterinarian will locate the affected area on your horse?s neck or back, and then take radiographs.? These will help your veterinarian to pinpoint exactly what is going on in your horse?s spine to cause the symptoms.? Sometimes radiographs are not enough to clearly diagnose the disease, in which case a myelogram may be necessary.? This is a procedure where colored dye is injected into the horse?s spine to show on the radiographs where exactly the compression of the spine has occurred.? Because the horse must be under anesthesia for this procedure, it is not always a convenient or even possible option.
Wobbler Syndrome can be treated without surgery.? Most notably, benefits have been seen in supplementing an affected horse?s diet with vitamin E.? For horses that are still growing, a change in diet and turnout in a small paddock can help their bodies to realign.? Surgery is an option, however, in which case the surgeon will actually remove pieces of the horse?s vertebrae to eliminate the compression.