What is Headshaking Syndrome?

January 04, 2018 2 min read

Headshaking syndrome is a condition that causes a horse to flip his head in reaction to sunlight, wind, movement, and stress. Headshaking behavior is considered to be caused by over-activity of branches of the trigeminal nerve that supply sensation to the face and muzzle. Vets have connected this to the irritation or inflammation of the trigeminal (facial) nerve that runs from then back of the head, around the ears, along both sides of the face and ends in the nose and muzzle area.

A horse’s behavioral reflex causes him to flip his head, snort, sneeze, rub his head, or take evasive action. This makes it difficult or dangerous for him to be ridden or handled. All horses shake their head at one time or another, mainly horizontally, whereas horses with headshaking syndrome, the horse exhibits repetitive, involuntary headshaking that is more vertical. The horse can exhibit mild annoyance to the sensations, or he may show sheer panic and extreme pain. Headshaking syndrome is painful and should be treated as you would treat any serious illness.

 

Signs of an affected horse:

1. Up/down involuntary twitching of the head

2. Face Rubbing

3. Snorting or high-blowing, sometimes with nasal discharge

4. Nostril clamping (closing) after exercise

5. Wiping of the nose on the ground or legs

6. Distracted behavior

7. Extreme agitation

Typical causes:

1. Allergic reaction

2. Severe irritation to some area of the head

3. Ear mites found in the ear canal

 

Treatment is not always possible when it comes to headshaking. It is best to reduce the presence of anything that causes the nerves to fire more regularly. For example, exposure to sunlight is the number one cause. To help, Benefab® offers the Rejuvenate SmartHood; it features 27 magnets over key acupuncture points for stimulation of the most important areas. The SmartHood harmonizes bodily functions safely and naturally; stimulating recovery time, promoting blood circulation, increasing oxygen flow, and overall reducing pain and stiffness. A horse with Headshaking syndrome may find relief and relaxation, as well as other benefits from a SmartHood.



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