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anne@cureheadshaking.co.uk
Chorleywood Livery

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The Headshaking Horse

We have seen that headshaking in the
normal horse is a natural defensive reaction to the presence of flies. Headshaking horses repeatedly perform the movement even when there is no current threat from flies. This is an abnormal movement and often results in the horse being unable to be used. It is usually stated that there is no cure for headshaking. With our analysis of the aetiology (the underlying cause), that has all changed. We now know the cause with certainty, and correction of the condition is readily available.

Our work on horses bleeding from the lungs (exercise induced pulmonary haemorrhage) has now saved many hundreds of horses from this previously incurable debilitating condition. Bleeding is very common and is due to additional high blood pressure in the horse. Horse blood pressure rises naturally for speed and acceleration, but any obstruction of circulation will further raise blood pressure until blood vessel damage occurs.

Some of this blood vessel damage occurs in the skin, at the level where both nerves and blood vessels surround the hair bulb. It is these nerves which trigger headshaking, because the nerve messages from the hair bulb are those which trigger the head to shake, to throw off flies.

A horse does not normally have high blood pressure at rest, although we have seen a few rare cases. Once the horse starts to exercise, if the obstructed circulation causes pressure on the hair bulbs of the neck or head, then the head will shake. This is why in most cases, horses only headshake when they are asked to work.

The first action to be taken is to return the blood pressure to normal, whether exercising or not. The only product capable of restoring normal blood pressure in a horse is
Equiwinner, which is guaranteed to restore normal circulation. After a ten day course of Equiwinner including normal daily exercise, the circulation will be normal, and that is the end of the headshaking in any horse which has recently started this distressing condition.

Where the horse has been headshaking for some time, perhaps for years, more time is needed for repair of the damaged blood vessels and nerves around the hair bulbs of the head and neck. In these long term cases a second course of Equiwinner is needed, combined with daily exercise and twice daily hosing with cold water over the head and neck, and along the length of the spine after the horse has been warmed up with exercise. If a cold hose is not available, buckets of water with ice may be used. The reason for the cold water is that by good fortune there is a small muscle attached to the hair bulb which pulls the hair upright in response to cold. By exercising this muscle we can restore good circulation to the hair bulb and free up the nerves.  At the end of twenty days the long term headshaker will be free of headshaking.

The Equiwinner patch has a balanced package of sealed electrolytes, e.g. sodium, potassium, magnesium, chloride, calcium, and carbon. A fresh patch is used on different spots on the skin of the horse each day.

When the patch is placed on the horse, the skin cells, at a microscopic level, recognize the electrolytes in the patch and generate electrical signals which pass to all other cells in the body. This "artificial" generation of signals is sufficient to switch off the inappropriate conservation of electrolytes throughout the body.  Freeing electrolytes to work properly improves circulation, allows normal blood pressure, the damaged blood vessels that surround the hair bulb can heal, and the nerves will then not trigger the head to shake when there is no actual threat from flies.

Because domesticated horses can never get enough continuous exercise, excess blood pressure will very slowly start to rise again over a period of time.  It is therefore recommended to follow up by using Equiwinner again once yearly to keep the circulation in good condition and to avoid any further trouble.