Managing Headshaking in Horses: Magnesium, Boron Supplementation Might Help

Some severe headshaking cases that are resistant to existing treatments and can significantly compromise a horse’s quality of life. But researchers have recently determined that a supplementation regimen could help.
Share
Favorite
Close

No account yet? Register

ADVERTISEMENT

managing headshaking in horses
Some severely painful headshaking cases these are resistant to existing treatments and can significantly compromise a horse’s quality of life. | Photo: iStock

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 summer

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.

Share

Written by:

Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

Has your veterinarian used SAA testing for your horse(s)?
94 votes · 94 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!