Headshaking advice: Help for headshakers

By Harriet Linton

06 May 2009 10:39

Even though there is no cure for headshaking, there's been pleanty of research done on finding ways to aleviate the symptoms. Below is a list of idea, products and solutions to help your horse combat the effects of headshaking:

Professor Robert Cook from America’s Tufts University suggests using a bitless bridle. He believes pain caused by the pressure of the bit on the nerves inside the mouth might be a trigger factor for headshaking. Some bitless bridles may  put additional pressure on the nose so be careful to use a mild version.

Equilibrium Products produces the half-net approved for British Dressage competitions. The company’s all-over facemask has an extra nosepiece for turnout use. You can also buy all-over facemasks from Guardian Mask – these
are good for photic headshakers.

Herbal supplements and Chinese or Indian herbal remedies, some aimed at headshakers, are available from many companies.

Try moving your horse to a yard in a different area.

Your vet might be willing to send blood samples for allergy testing. This is followed by a course of injections to desensitise the horse, which could take up to a year.

Feed hay from the floor

Check your horse’s nostrils for debris and seeds

Dr Katy Taylor, from DeMontford and Lincoln University, has conducted a survey of treatments, which produced the following results:

Nose net - 179 horses – 27 per cent of owners reported complete success, while 34 per cent noticed some improvement.

Face net - 51 horses – eight per cent complete success, 41 per cent partial success. 

Homeopathy - 93 horses – six per cent complete success, 31 per cent partial success.

Feed supplement - 105 horses – five per cent compete success, 31 per cent partial success. 

Ear net - 82 horses – four per cent complete success, 29 per cent partial success. 

Traditional veterinary treatment - 129 horses – six per cent complete success, 22 per cent partial success. 

Back specialist - 50 horses – no complete success, eight per cent partial success.

For a list of headshaking symptoms, click here

To read more about headshaking, click here