Several problems (infections, masses, mechanical compressions..) can induce neurological deficits in horses. Clinically, these will be seen as sensation and/or muscular tone deficits in the horse’s limbs, head or other body parts. When trying to identify the problem, it is important first to determine where does the problem stands (brain, neck, back, limbs..). This is the objective of the clinical neurological exam. 

How is this exam performed?

During the neurological exam, vision and hearing are tested, as well as sensation on the different body parts. The horse is then asked to perform several ‘exercises’ like circling (small and large circle), tracing an 8, backing, walking over a small step, walking blindfolded.. Analysis of the horse’s behaviour and moves allows précising where the problem stands. 


The CSF is the liquid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. When a problem like a bacterial, viral or parasitic infection or a neoplasia affects these organs, the CSF is modified and its analysis in a laboratory brings major information in order to identify the problem.  

How is this exam performed?

CSF sampling can be performed at 2 different sites in the horse: at the lumbosacral junction just before the rump (on a standing, sedated horse) or at the neck (under general anaesthesia, on a lying horse)

In both cases, the skin is clipped and disinfected and a needle is inserted inside the canal containing the CSF. A few mL are sampled and the needle is retrieved. A disinfecting spray is applied. 


When spinal cord compression is suspected in the neck (wobbler syndrome), a radiographic exam of the cervical vertebrae using a special contrast liquid can be performed to confirm the diagnosis and identify the compression site. 

How is this exam performed?

The horse is anaesthetised and lied down on one side. The skin of the neck is clipped and disinfected and a needle is inserted in the canal containing the CSF. A few mL of liquid are retrieved and replaced by the same quantity of contrast liquid. The needle is taken out and radiographs are taken with the neck flexed and extended.