Over the past five years, vet Stephen Ashdown has written many articles, spoken on equine matters and contributed widely to horse magazines.

Here he reproduces in the form of questions and answers about 100 topics, all of them common problems which afflict horses.

To access Topics click on Vet Advice Menu.

Shaking a Leg
Q I have been given a lovely, though green 17.2hh, seven-year old gelding who suffers from shivers.

At the moment the problem isn't affecting him too badly, though he experiences difficulty when his back feet are shod and he has to be sedated. Is this ailment likely to worsen and, if so, is there anything I can do about it?

A Shivers is thought to be linked to subtle damage to the spinal cord (main nerve supply) and vertebral column (backbone) in the lower part of the back. In the past it was mainly seen in large heavy horses who were put under a lot of strain, eg. when pulling heavy carts and wagons. It is most often diagnosed in Clydesdales and other draught horses who are under three years of age.

The main indication of shivers is a shaking of the hindlegs, particularly when the horse is backed up. It sounds as though you and your horse can cope with this problem, but you'll just have to be careful not to put him in situations where a lack of control of his legs will put you and him in danger.

The condition is likely to worsen with age and can sometimes reach the stage where the affected horse cannot move at all. Long-term use of anti-inflammatory herbs or homoeopathic medicines may be useful in such situations.

I would certainly recommend supplements to help improve bone density and backbone strength.

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