View Full Version : head shaking problems
20th May 2002, 07:32 AM
Some of you may have seen my posts on my horse head shaking and having a wolf tooth out. I tried riding her with just a headcollar and she was a bit better, but obviously I didn't have much control. How can I stop her head shaking? I think she is using what were sore teeth to her advantage. Should I try a martingale and maybe no browband and noseband?
Anyone got any ideas. She never used to do this, I keep making excuses for her, but I think she's perhaps just being difficult.
Any help is appreciated!
20th May 2002, 08:01 AM
Is there a possibility that she is headshaking due to an allergy? As it started in the spring it could be that. I see someone else suggested a nose-net, which might be worth trying. It can be difficult if not impossible to get to the bottom of headshaking and some horses just can't be ridden other than in the Winter due to it. If you do a search on the web, you'll probably find more information that might help you to decide whether it's actual headshaking, or something else. Did you ask your vet about it when he came to do her teeth?
There could be a lot of reasons behind her problems that aren't down her just being difficult. Could be headshaking syndrome, ovarian cyst, sore back, sore neck/poll, sore mouth, her seasons just making her uncomfortable, ill-fitting saddle, low-grade laminitis, ear mites... and probably dozens more I haven't thought of.
It could be a confidence issue though. Horses who nap, rear and generally play up for no physical reason are usually lacking confidence in their rider and playing up because of it. That's why a calm, confident rider can usually work through it. It seems as though the horse is being naughty and playing up for no reason, but it's usually that they lack confidence and are trying to take control because of it. If you go through all the possible physical reasons for it, are sure it's not actual headshaking and are still having problems, then a behavioural expert, such as Mike Peace, might be worth considering.
Hope you can resolve it soon. Good luck.
20th May 2002, 08:38 AM
I thought about allergies and things like that, but she only does it when being ridden. I believe Robert Maxwell is visiting our yard next month, so if I am no further forward then I will be asking him for some advice.
Confidence could be an issue I suppose, but I'm not a particularly nervous rider. I am trying to eliminate every possibility one step at a time. Its not her saddle, ear mites or laminitis, I doubt it is her back due to the way she charges round the field, however that is to be checked soon. I think these problems started when she started coming into season this year and has made a new boyfriend in the field, perhaps that is a reason.
I just wondered if anyone else has had a similar problem that they have overcome and how.
20th May 2002, 08:53 AM
Headshakers do usually only do it when ridden. Try this website for more information, which might help you decide whether it could be that.
It could be down to her seasons though. If she's only naughty just before, or during a season, it might be worth getting the vet back to check her and go from there.
20th May 2002, 10:39 AM
i've worked with a couple of ponies who headshook from anxiety - one had been badly mistreated and the other was born at our yard and has always been well treated, but is just a very worried young man - he panics when there's any pressure on, like when he's being taught something new or the atmosphere is high, like at a show. is it possible that she's worried and it's something like a nervous tic? it didn't sound like that from your other posts, but if you're not getting anywhere it's another option to explore. it seems that they do it almost as if to distract you from doing whatever it is they're woried about. it's a different thing from misbehaving to get out of working - there's a definite feeling of fear/worry about these two, and they really don't seem able to control it. with the nervous one, we're working through it by teaching everything new very slowly, and repeating it to death before asking him any more questions. he generally swings his head from side to side rather than up and down, and also rubs his nose on his foreleg. anything look familiar?
20th May 2002, 11:02 AM
she's just so good with everything else, perfect in fact. I'm not putting any pressure on at all, just walking/trotting. She's great on the lunge and generally enjoys her work. Its just not like her. Maybe I'm not putting enough pressure on and she thinks she can get away with it, but I do not want to put pressure on her until I am 100% confident there is no underlying problem. I just don't want this head shaking to become a habit. It is more napiness than lack of confidence, she is a mare who knows her own mind and is the herd leader in the field.
Tonight I will change her bit and make her work a bit and see if that helps. Maybe the shaking will wear off after some schooling when she starts to concentrate. It is just so strange that she never did it before.
I'll go and have a look at that web page too. I did read some info the other day, and her symptoms are not that of a confirmed head shaker. its just so frustrating.
20th May 2002, 11:07 AM
"pressure" with our chap can be something as little as asking him to move over when you go into his stable without spending enough time cuddling him first - it's not always what we'd think of as pressure. it doesn't sound likely though if she's fine at everything else. i think seeing if she works through it is a good idea - perhaps she's just feeling well! how is she if you lunge her before riding?
20th May 2002, 12:07 PM
i'll lunge her tonight before I ride, from memory i don't think it makes a difference, i haven't been doing that much though because there is no mounting block in the school and she's not been standing very well recently. I usually ride or lunge. Time is usually of the essence! There is not usually anyone to help me.
22nd May 2002, 12:25 AM
Does he only shake his head while being ridden? If he shakes it continuosly in and out of the saddle, get a vet check A.S.A.P. My friend had a young colt that was shaking his head alot and they found out it was becasue he had wobbles!!! He is no longer with us, :( Get a vet check if he does it really often!!!!!
22nd May 2002, 08:08 AM
i rode her the other night with no browband or noseband and she was much better! she must be getting a big head!
BUT....she came trotting out the school (downhill), tripped and fell on her knees got up and tanked off leaving me bruised, battered and face first in some stinging nettles. She thought it was hilarious!!!
She's none the worse, I'm sporting a lovely bruised hip, head hands and back!!!
At least I got her to stop shaking her head though!
22nd May 2002, 11:15 AM
maybe it's an ear infection if she's better without the browband? does she mindyou touching her ears?
23rd May 2002, 08:37 AM
yeah, fine with ears, she sweats quickly under the browband though, doesn;t seem too tight, but it is a clencher browband, I'll try her in a lightweight plain one I think.
I don't mind ditching the noseband for now.
I am just in so much pain, it will be a few days before I can ride again, I'm lucky I didn't break anything
2nd Jun 2002, 08:43 PM
I've just read the information that Sue Carnell posted on headshaking. My mare shows some of the signs, she shakes her head horizontally when she's excited and she constantly rubs her mouth on her legs. Should I be worried about this? Could she have an allergy? Oh and she does this all year round. Tasha
2nd Jun 2002, 10:26 PM
there could be a number of possible things that is making your horse shake its head. It could be the bridle or bit. I think it could be the feed too, is the feed giving your horse too much energy but he isnt excercising enough to equal it all out? This was a common problem in my old riding school and a couple of the schools horses and ponies where all shaking their heads. It sounds funny but it does become a problem after a while. It was sorted with them having a feed change, they all had their feeding programs changed and were fed on less energy-giving feeds.Try getting advice of your vet and try and find all different feeds that won't give your horse so much energy but without completly disrupting your horses feed. Hope I helped.
2nd Jun 2002, 10:28 PM
You could also try one of those bitless bridles (sorry Ive forgotten what they are called) if it is a tooth problem. You would have better control over your horse with a bitless bridle rather that a headcollar!
2nd Jun 2002, 10:57 PM
A lot of horse rub their mouths on their legs if their bit is too high in their mouths, even more so if they have a flash noseband. Perhaps you could check this first?
There are lots of possible reasons for headshaking that don't involve allergies, so it's best to try to rule those out first.
7th Jun 2002, 08:30 PM
At one time I dreaded that my horse had a headshaking problem as a result of allergy. She doesn't. She will tend to "shake" either when she's in season, or more likely when she's trying to communicate that "I cannot do that (YET!!)" or ("that hurts, don't do it or ask me to do it again please").
I'd stick to Sue's advice and also get Mike Peace's opinion if you can.
10th Jun 2002, 01:59 AM
We had a mare at the stable I work at that would always bob her head up and down, when she was and wasn't being ridden, and it turns out that it was a tumor. :( So definately talk to you vet!
10th Jun 2002, 12:05 PM
I had a mctimoney practioner out to see her, and she noticed Ciara's pelvis was slightly rotated and she has some muscle spasm too. She's had some manipulation and laser treatment. I am going to ride her tonight so I'll see if this has helped any.
anyone else have experience of a rotated pelvis?
10th Jun 2002, 12:33 PM
Did Ciara's not standing very well when being mounted start around the same time as the headshaking? If so it could well be that the headshaking is related to her having a slightly sore back/saddle fitting probelms so some other reason taht makes her associate being ridden with a bit of discomfort.
It could well be that the rotated pelvis could have been the cause of both of these probelms. Whatever, I feel that the two could be related.
Do let us know how you get on with riding tonight after her session wtih the chiropractor.
11th Jun 2002, 08:33 AM
Due to the rain and the fact she was a little fresh I decided just to long rein instead. (she's not been ridden in over a week) I'm not very good at this, but she did go quite nicely! I got a lovely collected trot I didn't ask for!
I will ride her tonight, that will let me know for sure if she feels better! Watch this space.
12th Jun 2002, 11:50 AM
I rode Ciara last night, I also changed her bit too to a full cheek fulmer snaffle and she was much much better. I have discovered, after being approached by a big white diesel van, that she has realised that by head shaking and starting to rear/threaten to buck she can turn round and go home. Still, she was much better to tack up and mount and was walking more freely since the chiropractor was out. My plan now is to do lots of schooling so she knows who's boss, she has worked out how to frighten me now while on a hack - she is telling me its too dangerous as opposed to me telling her its safe. Hopefully we can get back to where we were at a few months ago. FIngers crossed.
Thanks for everyone's advice.
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