Your horse has misstepped while in the ring, it seems to drag its right rear toe. It stumbled a couple of times on the last trail with no good reasons. You are concerned: is it a problem with a joint, a muscle or is it neuro? The goal of the presentation is to help you recognize some of the more subtle signs and take you through the multiple steps of the neurological examination. At the end we will review some of the neurological diseases that can affect Alberta horses.
Sorting out the neurologic signs and localizing the lesion are the first steps that your veterinarian will try to accomplish. Are there seizures, a change of behavior? Does the horse show a head tilt? Is it just the gait that is abnormal? The process begins with gathering information on the horse (age, Breed, occupation), history (when did the stumbling start, how did it progress, did the horse fall?). The veterinarian will perform a physical examination looking for other signs that may help in localisation of the lesion (asymmetry of muscles, movement of the neck). Step 3 is the neurological examination per se with the goal of determining as best as possible the site(s) within the nervous system. Localization of the lesion(s) is important for the clinician to determine the most likely diagnosis, determine the best tests, provide a rational treatment and discuss prognosis and preventative measures for the rest of the horses if necessary.