head shaking syndrome - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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head shaking syndrome

My 7 year old mare Pepper, has this issue. For those of you who dont know what it is, its a syndrome that causes the nerves to fire in the horses face (like a shock) causing the horse to snort, nose flip, head toss/ shake. There isnt a known cause for it, and as far as I'm aware, no cure.

I was just wondering if anyone else has a horse like this?
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post #2 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 11:44 PM
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Hello!

Unfortunately, I've had 2, but mine were not the same as yours.

My first horse had hay fever. He was allergic to a certain pollen that came out during spring/summer. The first year I had him, we rode past the offending tree - and it was like he was stung. He head shook for about a month very lightly. The following year I moved agistment, and in summer he was in full swing of head tossing. The poor guy was so frustrated. I used a jab on him to help him, which resolved the issue, and sold him on to a home further south where this pollen was not commonly found. He hasn't shook since.

My second horse with this was a facial nerve - she had a tooth extracted, and started to head toss. Unfortunately it took 2 weeks, various jabs (anti-histamines, steriods, etc) with no luck. By chance, I had a bowen course coming up (I am training in bowen and sports massage), and took her along in my last hopes of trying to get her sorted. She did a full session with her, and by the end of it - she wasn't head shaking. And she hasn't since.

There are several types of head tossing/shaking - light sensitivity, open pores, allergies, trapped or tweaked nerves, dental issues, poll issues, sinus issues ..
There are ways to help them :)
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post #3 of 11 Old 08-26-2012, 11:54 PM
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I have just recently discovered one of mine probably has it and im about 99% sure. I have still yet to work out what it is exatly that does this to him but I have narrowed it down to late winter through spring time that I have noticed it the most.

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post #4 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squishy View Post
Hello!

Unfortunately, I've had 2, but mine were not the same as yours.

My first horse had hay fever. He was allergic to a certain pollen that came out during spring/summer. The first year I had him, we rode past the offending tree - and it was like he was stung. He head shook for about a month very lightly. The following year I moved agistment, and in summer he was in full swing of head tossing. The poor guy was so frustrated. I used a jab on him to help him, which resolved the issue, and sold him on to a home further south where this pollen was not commonly found. He hasn't shook since.

My second horse with this was a facial nerve - she had a tooth extracted, and started to head toss. Unfortunately it took 2 weeks, various jabs (anti-histamines, steriods, etc) with no luck. By chance, I had a bowen course coming up (I am training in bowen and sports massage), and took her along in my last hopes of trying to get her sorted. She did a full session with her, and by the end of it - she wasn't head shaking. And she hasn't since.

There are several types of head tossing/shaking - light sensitivity, open pores, allergies, trapped or tweaked nerves, dental issues, poll issues, sinus issues ..
There are ways to help them :)

As Squishy said, there are a multitude of reasons a horse can headshake. I've never owned one personally, but where I previously worked there was a boarder who owned a headshaker and they're fairly certain it's neurological.

One of the treatments she did was a stem cell treatment. Unfortunately she moved back east with her horse shortly after completing it, so I've no idea how well it worked or if it worked at all for him.

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post #5 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 08:36 AM
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My qh has this issue. Nose net helped.

You may do the search in this section on head shaking syndrome: there was a thread just recently about it.

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post #6 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 08:52 AM
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There's a tb at my barn that does this. We always just assumed it was out of boredom as he only does it while locked up in his stall, and he always has no hay because they only give him 2 flakes twice a day.
I figured he was bored and could use hay to munch on to pass the time. I throw him a few flakes every once in awhile.
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post #7 of 11 Old 08-27-2012, 10:49 AM Thread Starter
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I did buy her a nose net, and it helps sometimes. Sometimes its like she doesnt have it on at all. I bought her with this problem (it actually started with her when the cutting trainer i worked for had her up at a show- they thought digger flies had caused it-but it never went away lol), and at the pre purchase, she was scoped to see if there was maybe a growth in her airway or something. I even had a chiropractor work on her.

Its completely neurological with her, and i have found that when shes really nervous about something it tends to trigger it. Over cast days seem to be worse for it, and the worst episode i saw her have was from seeing flames from CRP land being burned off the next pasture over from where she was boarded- the barn owners had to call me out as they could not get her calmed down, as she was like manic about it. I did find out that day that when she gets really bad (she was being very pushy and kinda dangerous to handle so i decided to WORK her on a lung) the more i can get her moving and her mind on me instead of the pain seems to kind of take her mind off of it.

AS for stem cells, while i would love to try everything to cure my horse, my money does not come from a tree lol, so I cant dump money into something that may not help her...I have heard of de nerving the face, but that makes me nervous for obvious reasons. Plus she likes to twitch her upper lip on stuff (fence rail, my boot if we stop while out riding, my hand if im in the pasture with her ,ect) and i could see her ripping it up pretty good if she couldnt feel.

Has anyone ever bred, or know of someone who has bred a horse like this? I wonder if its hereditary...this mare has phenominal breeding (not to mention she really is just the best horse ever..imo of course:) and one day i will want a foal out of her- but not if there is a high chance of the foal having this issue.

thanks for the replies guys:)
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post #8 of 11 Old 08-28-2012, 12:00 PM
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I think neurological is indeed something much harder to handle (if possible at all). In my case it's allergy and/or dust. Hope someone else will give a better suggestion.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation - we are challenged to change ourselves."

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
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post #9 of 11 Old 08-28-2012, 12:35 PM
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My mare has it. everytime i ride i make sure she wears a nose net it makes the problem much better, it doesnt make it go away but it alot better and i make sure she wears a fly mask at all time. some horses get it worse when its very bright sunshine when to much light is getting into the eye and when the seasons are changing. i always make sure my mare wears a fly mask to block out the brightness of the light. if you trype it in on goolge a article will come up saying about the different types of light that causes the horse to head shake.

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post #10 of 11 Old 08-28-2012, 03:42 PM Thread Starter
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I read that about light but sunny days dont bother her a bit actually.
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