Join Date: Aug 2013
Location: New Brunswick Canada
I'm about to start what could be a long, expensive journey to find out what is making Trouble chronically shake his head. I'm terrified about the worst outcomes, praying for the best outcome. He started nodding his head about a year ago in the winter. He was acting like something was biting or stinging him. Obviously, it was minus 30C outside so we had no bugs. From what I saw, he only did it minorly.
I have only been out to the barn about three or four times in the past year, sadly. Between having no job or vehicle and living an hour away, then Covid, I just couldn't make it out. Thankfully I know my dad can care for him and feed him properly, and he even covered my farrier visits regularly, so for that I'm thankful. He even watched over him and got ahold of the vet when he had a mild bout of gas colic.
The times I went to the barn, it seemed his head shaking was getting worse. Now this spring my father called and suggested I get ahold of someone to check him out because he was doing it a lot. He will do it walking, standing, eating. He rubs his nose on his legs a lot. It's started affecting even haltering and leading him. He does it at night too. I've googled all I can about Head Shaker syndrome, dental issues, eye issues. There can be so many causes. And to top it off there's a chance it could be porcupine related as he got into some quills a couple years ago. He let me pull the few he had with zero issues and was an absolute SAINT about it, and I called the vet- who wasn't concerned if I didn't feel any more, and advised me to give him a shot of Pen to ward off any infection. I'm scared there may have been more quills that have now travelled. I'm just scared.
I now am in a better situation financially and have got in touch with the vet who's coming out to start searching for the cause. We're going to start with dental stuff, a full look at his teeth with a speculum. Then if no improvement look into sinus infection/issues in the nasal cavity. Then move onto eyes, then she said if we HAVE to we will do radiographs and nerve blocks- but it's not going to be cheap.
He hasn't even started a career yet. I've ridden him enough to put some decent basic miles in the woods on him but he's only six and I feel like if he does have head shaker syndrome and he was deemed unridable due to it it will be such a waste of an extremely talented, once in a lifetime horse. I feel like I've failed him, even though I know it had nothing to do with me.
I went to see him a few days ago and cried. He's still his bright self, but he's so focused on sharply nodding his head he's hard to be around. You have to be vigilant in keeping your distance lest you get headbutted. It was hard to halter him even though he still drops his head into the halter for you like a doll, he just nods and nods. It's hard to watch.
If anyone has any words of advice, kindness or suggestions for myself or my vet, please, feel free to share them with me. I need all the ideas I can come by right now.