Headshaking in Horses: A Sensitive Matter
There’s a nerve-tingling explanation behind many headshaking cases
A toss of the head. A flip of the nose. It seems so benign, right? A horse that shakes his head continually, almost viciously, however, is no trivial matter. This type of headshaking can be frustrating for owners, detrimental to horse welfare, and pose diagnostic and treatment challenges for veterinarians.
Equine headshaking has long been a research interest, but scientists continue to hone in on what causes this vexing condition and how to best manage it. Let’s take a look at what they’re learning.
Hitting a Nerve
Sure, it’s possible your horse is shaking his head to deter flies or it’s simply a repetitive behavior he’s developed, but the truly uncontrollable and chronic headshaking that poses a danger to both horse and human is typically due to nerve pain. Researchers call it trigeminal-mediated
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