Shivers in horses is a condition that affects the muscles of a horse’s hindquarters and causes them to contract and tremble violently. It is an uncommon condition that can cause distress and discomfort for the horse and can impact its performance. In this article we will explore what shivers in horses is, what the signs and symptoms are, and how it is treated.
What Causes Shivers in Horses?
The exact cause of shivers in horses is not known, however it is believed to be related to an imbalance in the horse’s nervous system. It is thought that the cause of this imbalance could be genetic, neurological, or a combination of both.
Signs and Symptoms of Shivers in Horses
Shivers in horses is most commonly characterized by the horse’s hindquarters trembling or shaking. This trembling can range from mild to severe, and often occurs when the horse is in motion. The horse may also display other signs and symptoms such as:
- Muscle twitching – The horse may display twitching of the muscles in the hindquarters, which can be visible from the outside.
- Loss of coordination – The horse may appear to be uncoordinated or have difficulty controlling its movements.
- Reluctance to move – The horse may display a reluctance to move, or may be unable to move at all.
- Lameness – The horse may display signs of lameness, such as a stiff gait or a reluctance to move.
- Excessive sweating – The horse may sweat excessively, even when not being exercised.
Diagnosing Shivers in Horses
Shivers in horses is usually diagnosed through a thorough physical examination and medical history. Your veterinarian may also recommend further tests, such as blood tests, to rule out any other underlying conditions.
Treating Shivers in Horses
The treatment of shivers in horses will depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause. In mild cases, the horse may be managed with rest and physiotherapy. In more severe cases, medications such as muscle relaxants may be prescribed to help manage the trembling. Surgery may also be recommended in some cases.
Managing Shivers in Horses
Once the horse has been diagnosed with shivers, it is important to take steps to manage the condition. This includes avoiding strenuous exercise, providing a quiet environment, and using supportive equipment such as a surcingle or belly wrap. Your veterinarian may also recommend a diet low in carbohydrates and high in fat to help manage the condition.
Preventing Shivers in Horses
There is no sure way to prevent shivers in horses, however it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms and to seek veterinary advice if you notice any changes in your horse’s behaviour. It is also important to ensure that your horse is fit and healthy, with a balanced diet and regular exercise.
When to See a Vet
If your horse is displaying any signs or symptoms of shivers, it is important to seek veterinary advice. Your vet will be able to diagnose the condition and recommend the best course of treatment or management for your horse.
Living with Shivers in Horses
Shivers in horses can be a challenging condition to manage, however with the right care and management, it is possible to keep the horse comfortable and happy. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms, and to seek veterinary advice if you notice any changes in your horse’s behaviour.
Shivers in horses is an uncommon condition that can cause distress and discomfort for the horse. The exact cause of the condition is not known, however it is thought to be related to an imbalance in the horse’s nervous system. The signs and symptoms of shivers in horses include trembling of the hindquarters, muscle twitching, loss of coordination, and lameness. Treatment of shivers in horses will depend on the severity of the condition and the underlying cause, and may include medications, physiotherapy, and supportive equipment. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of shivers in horses and to seek veterinary advice if you have any concerns.
1. American Association of Equine Practitioners. (2020). Shivers in Horses. Retrieved from https://aaep.org/horsehealth/shivers-in-horses
2. Colorado State University. (2015). Shivers. Retrieved from https://www.vth.colostate.edu/conditions/musculoskeletal/shivers/
3. The Horse. (2021). Shivers in Horses. Retrieved from https://thehorse.com/condition/shivers/