Headshaking in horses: causes and solutions

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Headshaking is a pathology characterized by movements of the horse’s head. These movements are sudden, untimely and intensive. Concretely, a horse suffering from headshaking will tend to shake its head suddenly and sometimes aggressively. It is therefore an observable neurological syndrome, whether the horse is at rest or in activity. What are the causes of headshaking? What treatments are recommended for headshaking in horses?

Stall hangings: an accessory that protects the horse from wind and bad weather

Until now, the causes of headshaking remain little known. However, manifestations of this disorder occur periodically. Indeed, we observe in the horse a nasofacial irritation characterized by:

  • rocking and shaking of the head,
  • sneezing,
  • excessive snorting,
  • a secretion of tears,
  • cough.

A stall hanging is therefore a way to ensure the well-being of your horse. It should be noted that in 60% of horses suffering from headshaking, the symptoms are more severe from spring to autumn. It is during these seasons that allergens are more present in the air. Likewise, sunshine tends to aggravate the phenomenon. Indeed, some studies show that the symptoms of the pathology worsen when the horse affected by headshaking stays for a long time in a very sunny or too bright place.

By investing in a stall hanging, you protect the horse from wind, pollen, spores, rain, sun… This accessory not only brings a decorative note to your horse’s stall. It also protects him from this type of disease. However, as the site boxprotec.fr specifies, a box curtain must be breathable and must allow light to pass through so that the horse does not feel confined.

The most common causes of headshaking in horses

Several factors can explain headshaking in horses. However, the best known are:

  • ill-being related to the equipment, the exercise you make him do and the presence of the rider. The clinical signs of headshaking indeed appear depending on the duration and intensity of the exercise,
  • the environment in which the horse does its exercises: it can be made up of dense vegetation or be characterized by a strong presence of midges,
  • the different ailments : it can be ocular, auricular, digestive, respiratory, behavioral, myoarthro-skeletal, dental and traumatic affections. Nervous system disorders should not be ruled out either.

Treatments recommended in case of headshaking in horses

The treatment mainly depends on the type of condition detected by the veterinarian. However, you can make some modification to the environment in which the horse lives. For example, adopt a new release schedule for your horse. In doing so, it can work when the light is lower (early in the morning or late in the evening.)

The use of a face mask also reduces the clinical signs of headshaking in more than 50% of affected horses. A face mask effectively reduces the annoyance of the horse when faced with exposure to allergens, light or insects. You can even opt for a more specific face mask if the pathology is due to hypersensitivity to light rays. Be careful though, this solution affects the horse’s vision.

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