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You are in... Forums > Horse Care > Veterinary/Health > Headshaking, help/advice needed

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loosegirth

Joined:

Jan 12

Posts: 5

loosegirth says:

Headshaking, help/advice needed

 Hi there, 

We have a 7 year old cob mare. We bought her in the winter, December 2010 and she arrive on January 1st 2011. She showed no signs of head shaking when we viewed her, asked if she had any vices to which the previous owner replied no. She passed her vetting. She did not head shake when we viewed her being ridden. 

Everything was perfect until mid April 2011. She started to toss her head up and down in a vertical motion. It would start as early as about 1 minute into riding. She DOES NOT head shake when in the field/being tacked up. It is only when she is being ridden. I once did dismount half way through a halk to walk alongside her and she did continue to head shake.

After realizing this issue was head shaking, I started to research on the net and looks for answers. Not realizing that looking for a cause of her head shaking would be like opening a can of worms!

So firstly we believed it could be Pollen (April being the begginning of the pollen season). We tried:

. Nose net

. Piriton (Given by vet)

. Nasal Spray.

.Full Face Mask.

. Global Herbs Shake Free.

All of which did not make any difference to her at all, so we started to attempt to find another cause:

. We had a vet come and have a look at her, he found nothing.

. She had a blood test, which came back showing nothing.

. I've ridden her with no noseband.

. I've tried riding her in a very loose bridle.

. Made sure the browband isn't pinching her ears ect.

. Saddler checked all our tack in Jan when we got her.

. She had her teeth checked 2 weeks before she started to head shake. (Dentist is visiting in April).

We've tried loads of things, and it's so frustrating and such a money pit. 

Now the winter months have arrived I was hoping the head shaking might calm down. But unfortunatly it is persisting. 

I would be grateful if anyone has any experience with head shakers like this or if anyone has any advice on what step i can possibly take next? I do have some videos of her head shaking on my photobucket:

http://s1232.photobucket.com/albums/ff363/moodymare_92/?action=view&current=IMG_06361.mp4

Thank you. 

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Bluesnow05

Joined:

Nov 09

Posts: 1006

Bluesnow05 says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

 I can sympathise with you because my TB mare used to do it.  It would drive me mad, and spoil our rides because that was all I could concentrate on!!  What bridle have you got her in, bit noseband etc..?  I solved mine by changing her bit (she was in a full cheek snaffle, with the bit keepers on, which caused poll pressure and that in turn caused headshaking). I also had to remove her flash noseband.  With her it wouldn't start immediatly, but usually after about ten mins of riding - was her way of saying she was uncomfortable.  Can you contact her old owners and ask them if she did it with them?  does she do it when you're schooling her,or only out hacking when she's more time to think?  Hope you solve it. x

 

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loosegirth

Joined:

Jan 12

Posts: 5

loosegirth says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

 Hiya, thanks for your reply.

She is in a stubben snaffle, I'm not sure what type I'll have to ask my dad as my bit knowledge is quite poor and I can't remember for the life of me what it is called!

We phoned the owner and she didn't head shake with her apparenty. When we viewed her she didn't head shake.

She head shakes in the school, groundwork, polework and jumping she still head shakes.

[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

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**Haflinger21**

Joined:

Sep 08

Posts: 440

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

I have just gone through exactly the same thing.  It is one massive process of elimation isn't it?!  My boy started shaking in August 2011 really badly.  he had never shown signs previously and I have had him since he was 2.  We started the same process as you pretty much, vet, pollen, saddler, dentist, high levels of bute incase inflamation, no nose band removing his grazing muzel...... the list goes on!

He finally appears to have settled down after an intensive course of physiotherapy.  The physio found a lot of tension in his poll and neck and although we didn't know if this was the cause of the shaking or as a result of it it really seems to have helped him.  He does still do a small nod and shake infrequently when ridden or if he gets a little stressed and we think this may be because he is still expecting it to hurt.  Hopefully with time the last little ticks will go.

Any way I am guess I am saying one to try on your elimination list would be physio. 

Hope you get to the bottom of it - I completely sympathise it drove me crazy not knowing how to help him xx

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loosegirth

Joined:

Jan 12

Posts: 5

loosegirth says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

 Thanks for your reply.

Glad to hear you found something that helped your horse even if it didn't cure him completly. Haven't as yet found anything that soothes it or even makes it slightly better.

I have been advised to try some vicks on her nose, and ride her with her head collar on to see if that makes any difference. But it's so dis heartening when nothing seems to work! :( 

We have the equine dentist comming in April, but I might see if we can get out the chiro at some point to see if she is sore in the back. Even though the vet did check this. It's so annoying and such a money pit! 

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Shazzam

Joined:

Sep 09

Posts: 403

Shazzam says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

Also had same experience and had my mare 2 years and tried all the same things as you.   I have read articles online recently that it can be linked to poll pressure and/or discomfort so am currently seeking either a padded bit for my bridle or a padded bridle but agree I have gone through a fortune trying to get to bottom of it!  My instructor also noticed that it is usually when she is trying to evade work and her concentration is waining but not sure on that one as she also does it out hacking.  Usually after about 10 minutes for us.  Wouldn't it be so much easier if they could talk?!!!

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loosegirth

Joined:

Jan 12

Posts: 5

loosegirth says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

 I know it would be so much easier, then they could say 'Hey this part is bothering me', without having to spend months of trial and error and waste lots of money on things that don't work.

I am planning to ride her in her headcollar to see if it is bit/bridle related. I doubt it is the pollen at this time of year, even though it is still mild I am sure the pollen levels aren't that high? :S

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Bluesnow05

Joined:

Nov 09

Posts: 1006

Bluesnow05 says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

 Yes, great idea to try her in a headcollar, and just tie the rope into reins.  If she doesn't headshake at all you can narrow it down to the bridle, or the bit.  Then you just have to work out which is the cause - so either the poll pressure on bridle, or an uncomfy section, or the bit could be hitting the top of her mouth, pinching the sides etc.

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loosegirth

Joined:

Jan 12

Posts: 5

loosegirth says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

 I made a bit of a diy bridle out of her head collar and 2 lead ropes. I rode her for 55mins and she head shook 5 times. Which is a pretty big improvement. She went for at least 15 minutes without a head shake at one point. Had a canter and she didn't head shake after. 

So I am going to ride her in her head collar again to see if the same happens, as it was quite cold yesterday.

I'll keep you updated. Thanks for the help. :)

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LottieKal

Joined:

Apr 08

Posts: 41

LottieKal says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

 My pony used to headshake, to the point he would wobble when he walked.

 

We ran the usual MOT as you do, nothing....

 

so on a whim we tried a dr cook bitless bridle and it didnt solve teh problem but it defo did make a big difference.

 

it turned out that he had lost a tooth, though at the time there was no visible reason for the tooth to be lost or cause pain, but next time the dentist came it was gone... so we assume it was this that palyed a part. 

taking the bit out made a huge difference.

 

he is still funny to this day, though much better, we arent sure is it really was the tooth of if teh tooth was one of may factors.  

we took the bit out, got him fit and taught him how to carry himself properly and increased his flexibilty, this has left us with a horse who only headshakes when he is very excited or feels constricted in some way.  he now wears a bit (though is still very finnicky about what bit, has to be a neue schule... great my bank account loved him for that!).

 

dont know if that helps at all, but its what we tried :)

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moetsmummy

Joined:

Jun 12

Posts: 2

moetsmummy says:

Re: Headshaking, help/advice needed

My horse used to headshake really badly, his previous owner was thinking of having him put down, he didn't want to, he just didn't know what to do with him.   He was also very sensitive to touch and brush over his head and neck.  I tried riding him in a nose net, he would still shake a lot, but it was hard to know if the nose net flapping up and down was annoying him and adding to the problem.  The trouble was because he kept shaking, he made the net flap up and down.

There seem to be so many different causes for headshaking, but because my horse was so sensitive to brush, I was inclined to think that the cause for his problem was damaged hair glands.  I found that this could be treated using electrolyte patches.  I treated him for 20 days with the patches and the difference was amazing.  He stopped shaking and also now loves having his head and neck brushed.  Also his coat which used to be dull and stary is now beautiful so obviously by healing the hair glands to cure the headshaking, he has also benefited from an all over conditioning effect.

As he can now cope with schooling and training, I have just started competing him, but although previously a nose net didn't seem to help the problem at all, I do find that if I don't continue to use one he seems to have an itchy nose and wants to rub it, so I think that he also suffers with pollen allergies (which the electrolyte patches don't cure) as well.  This might be helpful to people to be aware that in some horses the problems/discomfort/distress is actually due to more than one cause.

I've attached a picture of him at his first show.

 

Attached images:

  1. Moet's first competition 001  

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