Guide to Headshaking

Headshaking in horses has been known to be a syndrome for many years but it is still largely misunderstood.

Heavenly Pastures Horse Cremations Guide to Headshaking

Although headshaking was once thought to be a behavioural problem, we know now that the condition can be caused by extreme pain. This causes the horse to headshake, strike at its face or rub it to attempt to get relief.

There are a number of reasons why horses headshake, with most showing the initial signs when they are between four and ten years old.

Signs a horse may be a head shaker:

  • Repetitive upwards movements of the head
  • Nostril clamping
  • Pinching of the muzzle
  • Striking out at the face
  • Rubbing the nose/face

It is unclear what the precise cause of the disease is, and if no physical cause can be found, horses may be diagnosed with “Idiopathic Headshaking” or “trigeminal-mediated headshaking” (TMH).

Studies show that 98% of horses presenting for investigation of headshaking are eventually diagnosed with TMH. When a local anaesthetic is used on the trigeminal nerve, most horses with TMH stop headshaking till the drug wears off.

The pain comes from a branch of the trigeminal running along the face. This same nerve is affected in some humans, in a condition called Trigeminal Neuralgia. That disease has many similarities with Idiopathic Headshaking. Trigeminal Neuralgia causes sharp, shooting pains in the face. As with headshaking, symptoms cannot be controlled through ordinary pain killers.

Heavenly Pastures Horse Cremations

Heavenly Pastures Horse Cremations are here to help you with a collection and cremation services for horses – we cover the counties of Merseyside, Cheshire and Lancashire within a two to three hour drive, as well as offering a nationwide horse collection and cremation service. We give you the opportunity to grieve as our equine end of life service takes care of practical arrangements for you. For more help or advice contact us on one of the following:-

Leyland Horse Cremations 01704 776 976

Warrington Horse Cremations 01704 776 976

Southport Horse Cremations 01704 776 976

Wigan Horse Cremations 01704 776 976

St Helens Horse Cremations 01704 776 976



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