What is DSLD in Horses?

Jessica McDaniel
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DSLD in Horses: What is DSLD?

DSLD, Diplomatic Stance, Lame, Spondylosis or Studbook Disease, is a syndrome of a collection of symptoms that are seen in young performance horses with a range of different causes.

Symptoms of DSLD include depression, reduced appetite, lack of willingness to move, muscle atrophy, staggers, and difficulty rising. This condition presents most commonly in young, high-level horses.

This condition should not be confused with the much more common and easily-diagnosable, Seedy Leg. Additionally, the condition should not be confused with caseous lymphadenitis found in cattle.

However, if your horse has any of the following symptoms it is worth considering DSLD as the underlying cause.

The spinal cord consists of several bundles of nerves, which connect the brain to every part of your horse’s body. The brain decides when to make the body move and when to stop it from moving, using chemicals (neurotransmitters) to pass messages along nerves to tell muscles to contract and relax. Mineral imbalances can disrupt communication between the brain and the muscles thus resulting in abnormal behaviour.

Symptoms include muscle tremors, difficulty rising, inability to flex a back muscle, difficulty turning to the right or left, and lack of coordination resulting in abnormal posture or a swayback where the horse’s back dips more on one side.

DSLD in Horses: What Causes DSLD?

DSLD stands for Dressage Saddle-Loop Dermatitis. This equine skin condition is the most common cause of problems that horse owners see for up to a year after having a new saddle fitted.

Dressage saddles cause the area directly behind the pommel and girth