IS YOUR HORSE A HEAD-SHAKER? - An emotive subject


Headshaking is an emotive subject, particularly at this time of year. Recently I put a post on my Holistic Horse Help Face book page asking people to remember that headshaking is the result of a physical problem, it is not a behavioural issue, and therefore in my opinion it is wrong to tie the horses head down with gadgets to stop him from shaking it. 

 There were several responses to my post and everyone has a different solution, but the real problem is that in most cases we don't know what causes the headshaking. One of the techniques I use as a physio is Craniosacral therapy.  
There are some practitioners who claim 100% success rate in resolving headshaking using this technique, but it seems to me if that were true, it would have been better recognised by now.
 I'm open to the idea though, and am treating a couple of difficult cases as 'trial' cases to assess the effects for myself, and there does seem to be some improvement already.
Suw Palmer_haed_shakingA horse I treated improved after his wolf teeth were removed; they had been rasped by the previous dentist! My own mare was a head shaker and the problem was successfully treated by riding her out in the mask she wore in the field, which was a full face mask. There are many other options available which some people have had success with. (image right Sue and Bell at camp) 
The evidence seems to point to headshaking being an irritation of the nervous system, and there is an equivalent in the human field, again with no consistently successful treatment as yet. 
We'll all keep working to help the horses, but in the meantime if you could help me to spread the message that this is a physical problem and not a behavioural issue then you'll be helping me to help horses and I'd really appreciate that, I'm sure the horses would as well!
By Sue Palmer, Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist ACPAT Cat A, BHSAI and Intelligent Horsemanship Recommended Associate
Tel: 07976 413488 Web:                    
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Knowing that a horse is physically in good health is essential before working with any behavioural issues, and I fully support Sue in her mission to increase awareness of this.‚Monty Roberts
Sue's in-depth knowledge of both Equine Behavioural work and Physiotherapy can only be beneficial for the horses and handlers that she works with Kelly Mark