Wobblers Disease in Horses


Wobblers disease in horses is more often known as wobbler syndrome, and the medical name is cervical vertebral malformation. It is the most common neurological disease seen in horses, especially thoroughbreds. It is often first diagnosed in young horses. Even if treated, this disease is normally progressive.

What Happens

  • When your horse develops wobblers disease, the symptoms are created by what is called stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal. A horse with wobblers disease has vertebra that are not shaped correctly, and pressure is exerted on the spine from these odd-shaped bones.


  • Some aspects of wobblers disease may come about from genetic predispositions, but according to the "Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook," second edition, the disease may also be caused by feeding horses high-energy diets that result in the horse growing too quickly. Sometimes trauma and stresses to the bones can be a factor.


  • There are two types of wobblers disease, which are defined based on how symptoms are apparent. There is dynamic stenosis, in which you will see your horse exhibit symptoms when he has to move his neck, and static stenosis, which describes a horse that has symptoms, but the symptoms remain the same whether or not the horse is moving his neck. Dynamic stenosis is the most common.


  • A horse with wobblers disease may have a hard time moving the hind legs, or even all four legs. When your horse does walk, he will seem clumsy and have a very odd gait. He may not want to move his neck, and will often drag his toes and stumble. He may also fall down.

Diagnosis and Treatment

  • If you suspect wobblers disease, have your veterinarian take x-rays of your horse's neck. If your horse has it, your veterinarian will start him on anti-inflammatories and prescribe six months or more of stall rest. If this does not help, your horse may need surgery, but this is not always recommended, as the surgery is not always helpful.


  • Horse Owner's Veterinary Handbook, Second Edition; James Giffin, M.D. and Tom Gore, D.V.M.; 1998.
  • Photo Credit race horse image by Wimbledon from Fotolia.com
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • Horse Spinal Diseases

    Horses are prone to several spinal conditions, some more debilitating than others. Overall, spinal conditions in horses may not produce the same...

  • Untreated Wobblers Syndrome

    Wobblers syndrome or wobbler disease is catchall term that refers to many different spinal-column disorders that are commonly found in large and...

  • Wobblers Disease in Dogs

    In wobblers disease the neck bones press on the spinal cord causing inflammation and restricting the flow of signals between the brain...

  • How to Treat a Horse With Wobbles

    Equine Wobbler Syndrome, or "Wobbles," is a neurological condition that results from a damaged or compressed spinal cord, usually effecting younger horses,...

  • Signs of Wobblers

    Wobbler syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects dogs and is caused by neck bones compressing the spinal cord. The pressure on...

  • Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Horses

    Signs & Symptoms of Kidney Disease in Horses. Being the stoic animals that they are, horses rarely show signs or symptoms of...

  • Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Horses

    Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease in Horses. Lyme disease is a serious concern for both pets and people, and it is...

Read Article

How to Make an Elevated Dog Feeder

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!