Horse does not want to put his head down

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Horse does not want to put his head down

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    04-21-2010, 05:02 PM
Question Horse does not want to put his head down


I've just got a bit of a concern. Tonight when I put my horse back in his stable after riding and gave him his feed bucket (on the floor), he just stood there looking at me.

Thinking he had not seen it (yea, right), I picked it up and put it in front of his nose and he started eating, as soon as I put it back on the floor, he just stood there looking miserable.

As I said in my introduction, he has spavins in both his hocks, but he has never found it painful to put his head down before. He looked like he was trying but then gave up. I stood there till he had had his dinner from my hand basically, and made sure he could get to his haynet.

I'm not sure what it could be, and I'm worried he won't be able to reach his water bucket.

Does anyone have any ideas? Please help :(
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    04-21-2010, 08:32 PM
How's his movement? It could be something in his front legs, shoulder, or neck. It could also be he didn't want to eat in the first place, but by holding the food you were directly asking him to eat. Did he get his teeth done or shod recently? For now, keep his food where he can reach it and monitor him closely. I'd say this is worthy of a phone call to the vet.
    04-21-2010, 08:48 PM
Yep a horse that isn't eating for some reason is something to take seriously. Has he been vaccinated recently? Any known accidents recently? Hauled in a trailer recently? You need to look at everything that you know happened in the last couple of days because it could be a cause for the unwillingness to lower his head.
    04-22-2010, 05:46 AM
Hi guys,

Thanks for the answers.

All his worming and vaccinations are in order. His teeth are due to be checked in a month for the yearly check. But there's been no precedent of this. He's not travelled in the trailer at all for 6 months now.

I'm going to call the vet today and have him come see him cause you're right, it's not normal.

I've just called the stable manager- She says he's eaten all his breakfast without problem, and is now happily grazing in the field. She reckons it might be because his salivary glands ('grass' glands) are a bit swollen at the moment and it might have caused some pain to put his head down last night, and this morning they had gone down, hence why he ate all his breakfast. What do you think? Is that a plausible explanation?
    04-22-2010, 06:38 AM
You say his vaccinations are in order - does that mean he got them recently? If he got multiple vaccinations, they should have been "spread" around his body. I had a pony once that an inexperienced-with-horses vet gave a vaccination to in either side of her neck - she couldn't put her head down either, and got very sore.
Everyone else's suggestions are also very plausible, but that's just another potential factor you could look at :)
    04-22-2010, 07:06 AM

No what I meant was his vaccinations were done in November, so nothing recent :)

I'll keep that in mind for his next vaccinations though! Thank you for the advice!
    04-22-2010, 08:25 AM
Green Broke
I'm not sure if he is stalled with a nylon halter on, but if so check that it hasn't rubbed him, I have a horse who gets rubs if he has a halter on for longer than a few hours and he won't put his head down if he has any.
    04-22-2010, 01:42 PM

He is not stabled with a head collar, and he does not have one on when he is out grazing either so I don't think that's the problem.

I'm really clueless. As I said, he ate his breakfast without a problem at all, and was grazing in the field. He was changed fields to reduce the amount of grass he gets. But when he came in this afternoon, he did the same, and would not put his head down to eat his dinner. His dinner was held up for him while he ate again.
Minutes later though he had his head to the floor playing with his toy (it's a sort of ball with feed that falls out occasionally from a little hole when it gets pushed around).
I don't understand as he eats his breakfast and dinner from the same bucket. Does anybody have any idea what it could be? As it was not an emergency the vet would not come out to see him today as he was very busy :(

It's a mystery!
    04-23-2010, 08:18 AM
OK the vet has finally answered my call!

So everything points to the problem being his salivary glands. As they are swollen, he is having difficulty swallowing his hard feed from the ground. The answer is to feed him at a height to help drain the glands. Everything should clear in about a weeks time :)

So if anyone gets this problem no panic! First make sure the horse has no nasal discharge, is not losing weight and is eating at all other times, as it might be a horse with Strangles that you are looking at.

Thanks everybody for your advice! :)
    04-23-2010, 08:52 AM
Thanks for posting your diagnosis - now I'll know for the future!

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