Trauma, Concussion or Other Brain Injuries in Horses

PetMD Editorial
Aug 08, 2008
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Traumatic Brain Injury in Horses

Brain trauma, concussions, and other brain injuries are relatively uncommon among horses and usually are a result of severe trauma such as a fall, kick to the head, or accident in a trailer.


Symptoms vary depending on how extensive the trauma to the brain, including:

  • Confusion
  • Poor coordination
  • Unsteadiness on foot
  • Dullness in the eyes
  • Blood in the nose
  • Blood in the ears
  • Slowness
  • Convulsions
  • Circling
  • Blindness
  • Sudden death


Brain trauma is due to a head injury, but may happen in variety of ways, among them:

  • Running into a post
  • Car accidents
  • Trailer accidents
  • Rearing and hitting an object (e.g., beam, tree, rails, etc.)
  • Sporting accidents (e.g., falls, bumps, etc.)
  • Kick to the head


Diagnosis of brain trauma varies from case to case and depends on the clinical signs the horse is exhibiting. In many instances, diagnosis only occurs when the horse is brought to the veterinarian after an accident. Many other times it may take a symptom or a host of symptoms for the brain trauma to be noticed. The sooner the veterinarian examines a horse after the trauma, the better.

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