Training

Headshaker Syndrome

From Headshakingsyndrom.com, an explanation of what this condition consists of:

All horses shake their head at one time or another horizontally, whereas horses with headshaking syndrome exhibit repetitive, involuntary headshaking that is more vertical. These horses may also have horizontal headshaking but the hallmark sign is the vertical movement. The motion is a sudden, intense downward flick of the nose and in severe cases the whole head and neck may be involved. This is a differentiating sign that is very useful in defining headshaking syndrome.

Another mandatory criterion is that headshakers rub their nose and muzzle on objects. It is not a brief gentle rub but the rubbing can become vigorous, incessant and even frantic. They may even get sores on their face or bang their heads on stall walls to relieve the unbearable pain running along the nostrils and face. This is due to the tingling and pricking pain of the syndrome. It is important to understand that the site of pain does not necessarily coincide with the source of pain.

I have personally owned a head shaker. Unfortunately, this was back several decades, and there was not an awareness that this even had a name, let alone any known possible treatments.

When we developed our Bug-GITs I always did wonder if this may be something we could use in place of nose-nets for headshakers. At a few of our tradeshows, people had actually come forward and asked us specifically about using our products for headshakers. We sent Bug-GITs out to a few headshaker owners for them to field test for us in the summer of 2016. Long story short, if you have a headshaker, and have tried nose nets with some success, our Bug-Gits could also be effective in lessening the symptoms. If your horse does not improve with nose-nets, or Bug-Gits will likely produce that same result.

Headshaker syndrome takes on a few different manifestations, and you may notice more intense symptoms on bright sunny days. These horses’ symptoms will lessen in the dark, and it may become more pleasurable to ride these horses in the evening or on more overcast days. Providing these animals with access to a dim barn or shed during the day would also be a management tool in providing your equine with a lower stress area to escape to on bright days.

Overall,this is a frustrating condition for any horse owner. There is research being done, and some medications currently being used in New Zealand show promise. Hopefully in time, these same treatments will be available in the USA. In the meantime, our Bug-Git may be an option in trying to combat some of these symptoms.

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