Managing Headshaking in Horses: Magnesium, Boron Supplementation Might Help
Persistent head-flipping, -rubbing, agitated snorting, striking at the face with a hoof. Some severely painful headshaking cases with signs such as these are resistant to existing treatments and can significantly compromise a horse’s quality of life. But researchers have recently determined that a feeding regimen that includes magnesium and supplementation could help.
Shara Sheldon, PhD, and a team of researchers from the University of California, Davis, Department of Veterinary Medicine and Epidemiology, examined the effects of the mineral—because it plays a role in nerve impulses—with or without boron (which increases ionized magnesium in the blood) on horses with trigeminal-mediated headshaking. She presented their results at the 2018 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 1-5 in San Francisco, California.
Sheldon explained that horses with trigeminal-mediated headshaking experience neuropathic (nerve) pain because the trigeminal nerve, which supplies all sensation to the face, is constantly on the brink of firing. Burning, tingling, itching, or electric sensations cause the signs described and more. Researchers believe that 1-4.6 percent of horses have the condition, 75% of cases occur in geldings, and any breed can experience it. There appears to be a seasonal component, with more headshaking occurring in the spring and
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