It may seem like you have tried everything you can to help your head shaker, but nothing seems to be helping significantly? Here’s a story to keep you going and encourage you not to give up! Take a read about Kyle and Vin’s journey.
I bought my RPSI gelding, Vin, back in 2012 when he was an 8 year old. He had previously done some fox hunting and low level dressage. During the first few months of owning him, he started to exhibit a head toss during exercise, which would increase as we worked more. At first, my trainer and I thought it might be him avoiding contact or staying in frame for collected dressage work, so we spent time building muscle, topline, balance, etc… When that didn’t alleviate anything we went the martingale route (which I’m ashamed of now, knowing he was dealing with something he literally couldn’t control) which would allow us to work but he’d still rail against the straps during our entire ride.
It was about a year into it when I started reading about headshaking syndrome. (This is after I went down a deep internet rabbit hole of “neck threadworms” and sufficiently freaked myself out). One of the first hits we got was the Muzzle Net from Equilibrium Products.
Both my trainer and I looked at it, and both agreed there was no way it was that simple and moved on to the next therapy.
We began with allergy meds, since he’d often rub his nose on his legs when it got the worst. When that didn’t solve anything we tried Equiwinner patches. After losing patch after patch in the pasture and not knowing how long he kept it on we decided to forgo that. We went down the Photic Headshaking route and purchased all kinds of sun protection contraptions, all with no results. Then we moved on to magnesium therapy, which we did see a small improvement with. The toss would still be there but would take a few more minutes into work to present itself.
During this “stage” in our experiments, I went ahead and ordered the Muzzle Net from Equilibrium. Both my trainer and I shook our heads the day I was bridling him up and attaching it, but we were also at our literal wits end on what to try. That very first ride with the net we had almost ZERO toss. He was finally able to relax, release some tension at the poll and seemed to just “breathe”. We both kicked ourselves for not trying this months/years earlier.
The magnesium/net combo helped for a few years, or at least calmed it enough for us to compete in jumping and dressage at a low level. As Vin got a bit older, his shaking progressed some and got back to the point where it was almost too violent for me to ride him. His tosses when he got going were so large that he’d throw his front legs off the ground at times. I found a study online (http://headshakingsyndrome.com/treatments.html) that utilized injectable dexamethasone administered orally, which seemed a little scary, but at this point I was considering just retiring him out to pasture so we gave it a shot. We spoke to our vet, which understandably was pretty cautious and moved forward.
Within the first couple months we saw AMAZING improvement. By pulse #4 we had no toss/irritation as long as we continued to ride with the Muzzle Net. Since then, we can get by with pulsing only when his symptoms present themselves and usually only 1 to 2 times per year. It’s literally saved him for us.
Think our Net Relief Muzzle Net potentially help your horse? Find out more here!