'Head Shaking'

Discussion in 'Horse Management' started by eventkid1, Dec 15, 2010.

  1. Natty and Nell Forever

    Natty and Nell Forever Well-known Member

    oh tara how horrible, you've put so much effort and work into him this year and he's coming so good! hugs sweety im thinking of you babe hoping he gets better for you all asap xxxx
  2. Shez

    Shez New Member

    I found this thread very interesting. I bought a T/bred home on trial from Mgt River in Oct. Lovely boy, but after 1 week with us started to head shake. We took him immediatly to Lark Hill - where they mentioned allergies and/or Trigeminal Nerve pain. We took him off all introduced foods and back to a very basic diet, but no change. He ended up going back home to Mgt River. He has now been back there for 7-8 weeks and still no better. The owner is refusing to refund my $1500 deposit (I understand if I had actually done something to him, I would be responsible for payment and have explained this to her. She is waiting till she gets her vet bills and will then see what happens ..... I also have a vet bill to pay for him). He was such a lovely boy and I think I would have purchased him if this had not happened. They have now starting him on some type of herbal therapy, so we will wait to see what happens with that. I work with a specialist who deals with Trigeminal Nerve pain in humans and it is considered a very severe pain and very difficult to treat.
  3. Cheeki

    Cheeki Gold Member

    Good luck with the antihisthomines .. that's what we did with Jed, and found what worked for him. I'm going to test him out on Sunday and take him for a ride (first time since his shots) - fingers crossed!

    Don't believe everything you read .. Jed started at 5 yrs old, ages are all over the shop :p
    If you want to keep him in work, try exercising him (lightly) in the evening .. see if that helps. Helped Jed a year ago :)
  4. eventkid1

    eventkid1 Well-known Member

    Thats whats hit me the most i think, i can tell hes not comfortable, he must be in tonnes of pain and not understand whats going on.
    Atleast i know im not the only one going through it with him, i have others that understand!
  5. Raw Prawn

    Raw Prawn Well-known Member

    Mine shakes his head when his forelock touches his ears when riding. If I plait the forelock head shaking resolved :)*

    This is not a true "head shaking" case though. As everyone has said it can be a hard one to manage - Ive been lucky I havent had to deal with one
  6. Shez

    Shez New Member

    Hi Event Kid - just wondered roughly where you are in Cardup - interestingly that is where I have my horses (the one above that started head shaking after being on trial for 1 month)
  7. eventkid1

    eventkid1 Well-known Member

    We're just off karbro drive, which is off soliders road.
  8. buggalugs

    buggalugs Well-known Member

    oh honey im so sorry to hear!!! headshaking can be so difficult to get to the bottom of.. but i have all toes and fingers crossed that you'll get there soon!!!

    Poor Dobby :( hes super special...
  9. GoneRama

    GoneRama Gold Member

    Great timing!

    Great timing putting this thread up, my mother has a little quarter horse cross filly who has recently started head shaking so I've forwarded the link to this thread onto her. Will post what treatments she's tried when I'm down home next week.
  10. wtf

    wtf New Member

    head shaking

    have dealt with two different ones both cuccessful horses both improved over time . Was talking to a very well known international rider 2 weeks ago and he said he gave one away to a young guy now its screaming round 3 star. i dont believe they are in pain i think its a reflex reaction and they continue to eat drink and maintain condition. give it a bit of time
  11. Shez

    Shez New Member

    I am on Karbro too!!!!
  12. eventkid1

    eventkid1 Well-known Member

    Weird!! Must be something in the grass possibly?
  13. Cornflower

    Cornflower Well-known Member

    You could try him on something like Tox Defy, which has been mentioned. It's not expensive, and a littly tub will last ages, as you only use 10gr per day. It binds mycotoxins, which are toxins that can be in all feeds and grasses. It might be worth a go until you have more time to take him to Murdock after Christmas and New Year.
    You can order it through here if you're interested; Gotcha Equine - Saving Horses and Helping Owners Smile Again
    Also an interesting site to have a read through. The ladies that are named as contacts for each state are lovely to chat to, and will answer your emails, and will try to help best they can.

    My horse shakes him head, but it's at flies. He hates them being anywhere near his face, and especially near his nose. He just shakes up and down, and sometimes quite suddenly will flick his head up or to the side. Has gotten worse over the past few years. But i find it comes and goes. Like he's more sensitive on some days, and not so much on others. It only happens in summer. Not much has helped. But like you, i need to wait till after the New Year. So in the mean time, i'm trying new diets, and i'm also moving him to another agistment.

    Wish you all the best with your boy. I understand how hard it is.

    Maybe also, if he's stabled during the day and out at night, which is an excellent idea, do this with another horse also, so he's not alone.
    Keep a fly veil on him, may limit the amount of light hitting his eyes.
  14. Shez

    Shez New Member

    Yes, we thought that maybe he had an allergy to his new environment, but if that was the case one would assume that things should have settled when he went home. I also have a friend on Soldiers Rd whp's horse was diagnosed with Trigeminal Neuralgia about 8 years ago - his head shaking comes and goes, but I dont think his was any where near as bad as the fellow that I had from Mgt River (I used to agist with the lady on Soldiers Rd - so I spent many hours around her horse too). She just has to be carefull - if he's having a bad spell she just leaves him alone - sadly this makes lessons and taking your horse out to events etc very hard as you cant plan ahead with him.
  15. Cornflower

    Cornflower Well-known Member

    No, not an allergy. And not his environment. Mycotoxins are everywhere, and can exist in all feeds. They can be in hay, grasses, as well as bagged feeds.
    Yes it's true that there may be more in one place than another, but there's 5 different types i think, and they're pretty-much everywhere, all over the world.
    So no, changing his home won't solve the problem, especially if he's sensitive to them. Might worsen it a little or make it better a little, but i don't think it would solve it totally.
    I'm probably way off the mark, but couldn't hurt to try in the mean time while waiting to go to Murdock.
  16. Emily Aitken

    Emily Aitken New Member

    My first and so far only horse was a head shaker. I managed to pretty much get through it but then he had an injury so had to take time off and it flared back up again. I didn't have the time to go through it again so I had to sell him.
    It can be caused by many things and I got a a lot of opinions while I was going through it and and tried most solutions presented to me. Here is a list of what I can remember was suggested to me as a cause:
    -Ear/nose mites (was checked and found negative)
    -Magnesium deffeciency (tried a magnesium supplement but it didn't seem to make much of a difference though i may not have fed enough for long enough)
    -Rye/clover pastures (I couldn't find another suitable agistment centre so there was nothing I could do about this. These pastures tend to be found in cattle paddocks)
    -Sore back (got bowen treatment and his back was sore though I'm unsure if this was due to the injury or a pre-existing condition and after the sessions he got really out of hand, probably because he was feeling better, and seemed to be head shaking worse)
    -Flies/pollen annoyance (was riden in a fly mask with a nose cover and head shaking continued only with increased flightyness)
    -Poorly fitting tack (had it checked and it all fitted fine)
    I had this horse for 3 years and it was a constant battle, some days he would be fine and others he wouldn't stop shaking his head (side-to-side and up-down) and striking at his head with his front hooves. I just read about the light sensitivity and wish I had heard about this earlier as I almost always rode during the day/afternoon and it now occurs to me that the couple of times I can remeber riding in the dark he didn't seem to head shake but I put it down to being one of his good days.
    Apart from the light sensitivity which I would love the chance to try, my final conclusion was bordem/work avoidance.
    Don't pay attention to what their doing with their head, keep your hands very fixed and steady (put an old stirrup leather around their neck if you need help with this). Drive them in to the contact, dont let them pull back and slack off keep them working forward without running. Put obstacles/games around the arena to keep them amused,focused and listening to you. ie. A row of cones to weave in and out of/or circle through, 3 poles in the shape of a z (with the middle pole straight insead of angled) and go over it in any pattern you want starting in a walk and working up to a collected trot (this is also a good way of teaching them to move their hind quarters around once you've mastered it in walk and trot), 3 trot poles at X across the short length of the arena so they only get a stride or two notice etc. This way if their too busy head shaking and not paying attetion they'll trip over a pole, collect a cone or run into a fence and with repition they tend to learn.
    This might not work for every head shaker as there seems to be many different reasons/causes I'm just saying this is what worked for me when I was able to work him 4/5 times a week consistently. I also saw some improvement with long term use of chamomile herbs but they can be pricey and needed to be used coupled with the exercises I named above. A natural horse trainer (Dan James) was also able to get through to him but I was never able to replecate the results.
    I hope this helps and I'm sorrying if I've repeated what others said, I don't have time to read all the posts.
  17. Emily Aitken

    Emily Aitken New Member

    Sorry I've just come back and reread that post I make it sound as if I think he was just being bad. There did seem to be an uncontrolled aspect to it. As if once he didn't have something to concentrate on he would just automattically (sp?) revert to head shaking. For example if I just had him trotting a 20m circle he would head shake but the moment i threw in some 10m circles, change of diagnols or an exercise it would stop and he would work like a superstar until I stopped the exercises, then it would either return or sometimes it wouldn't.
  18. eventkid1

    eventkid1 Well-known Member

    Thankyou all so much for your replys, sorry i havn't replied i have had a hard 2 days with Dobby. We cannot lead him from his paddock to the stable anymore as it's to dangerous, he strikes out at his own head with both front legs and goes absolutely mental every time he's lead. We have decided to leave him in the paddock (will start tomorrow, weather is too bad to be out at the moment) as it's near impossible to lead him. We've had a long long chat to our vet about it and have come to the decision that antihistamins will not help him as we're sure its not allergy related. :( We really are not sure whats going to happen now, maybe after summer he will calm down a bit and stop, we dont know, i will not ride him, i dont want to risk getting him upset.

    But thankyou all for your input!
  19. Shez

    Shez New Member

    Hi Event Kid - have you had a chance to have a look at the site suggested by Cornflower above. This is a very interesting site and well worth having a look. They have quite a few utube video's on head shaking horses - and this is pretty much what the horse I had was doing. Quite a few different suggestions (some quite easy to try and others much harder). The very last video they show gives an example of how to attach a panty hose to cover your horses nose/mouth area .......... the horse she uses as an example was head shaking on the lunge and stopped completely when she attached the panty hose. Would defintately be worth a try!!! I think this is the best site I have come across to date so try to have a look :).
  20. zendor

    zendor Well-known Member

    :( poor boy if its that bad!
    I think you really should contact Murdoch,Lark hill or someone more knowledgeable with head shakers and treatments either your self or through your vet.
    There is more options than your vet is making you aware to, We had many with both headshakers who have different types and different factors in their headshaking.They may not have all worked but we still tried them or had an option.
    There is many vets at Murdoch and most are happy to talk with you about problems if you leave a message.I know mum spoke to a few vets about head shaking before we went up.

    There is other options to antihistamines and the quicker you find something to help the better.
    The longer you leave it means the longer there is a possibility of it becoming a learnt behaviour as well as a pain response.I had someone say to me for the time the horse was head shaking that's the amount of time it takes to recover or undo that...
    Obviously depends on the horse does depend on the horse and all react in very different ways.
    As I said it really is a long hard road but don't give up there is other things you can do.

    Shez-EK1 did say she had tried that and it did work for 4 or so rides but is no longer effective. Its interesting as I know its a test they use at Murdoch and it was very effective on both of my head shakers.I wonder if maybe his sensitivity has increased.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2010

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