This afternoon was sunny. Beautiful. After running a few errands I headed up to see My Boy. When I got there I noticed he was standing under the overhang of his run-in shed, with his head into the shed (he is not allowed into the shed because there are some unsafe panels in there that need to be replaced.) I thought it was odd because he never does that, he always stands under his tree. When I went to catch him he actually trotted down to the gate (also unusual) and was shaking his head like he was irritated. I thought it was the fly mask or that a fly had crawled up under the fly mask. I haltered him and took the fly mask off. He ate his apple but was still shaking his head, very irritated and agitated. I took him to the grooming area and decided something was not right. My Boy is irritated by flies, but this was to an extreme I had never seen. I groomed him, put fly spray on him, and checked him out. I could find no apparent wounds or swelling. He was not cooperating so that I could not get a good look into his mouth. I decided to take him up to the arena to walk him out on the lounge line. He drank water from the trough on the way up. In the arena, he continued to be irritated. Constant up and down head bobbing and shaking, almost like an uncontrollable twitch. Rubbing his nose on the ground. Or on his leg. Sometimes he held his head cocked to the side, as if something was crawling in his ear. He also snorted/sneezed more than usual (once all over my t-shirt.) I began to feel panicked that this was very abnormal and I checked him out all over again, and found no apparent reason for his distress. I called my sister at work and troubleshooted with her. Was it a sharp tooth? Bee sting? Something in his ear? We decided I should call and talk to a vet and make a determination on whether or not this was an emergency. I put My Boy away. He stood by the gate still showing the sporadic head shaking. He eventually made his way back under the overhang and stuck his head into the shed. What prey animal puts their head into a shed and leaves themselves so vulnerable? Like I said, even in the biggest downpour, he will not stand under that overhang, he stands under his tree. Or, the few times I have seen him use the overhang, he stands horizontally under it, not vertically with his head into the stall part. When I fed him, he ate his grain, but spit out half of it because he kept head shaking while eating. An irritated tooth?
He ran over to eat his hay afterwards but still appeared agitated. Like the biggest mosquito in the world was dive bombing him and he couldn't shake it. Because there appeared to be nothing I could do and he was eating and drinking normally, I watched him for a while, then left for home.
I did some research online and have found various reasons for head shaking, including anxiety, allergic reactions in the spring (like hay fever) And even a reaction to sunlight (photic head shaking) which causes triggers some kind of neural skin irritation on the face. Now this intrigues me because my horse, according to my sister who checked on him since I left, said he has gone back to the head in the shed thing. I was able (through many lengthy runarounds and referrals) able to get a vet on the phone. She determined this was probably not an emergency if he had an appetite, was pooping, and all that normal stuff. She said that head shaking is kind of a mystery with horses and it could be caused by an allergen, or something in his nasal passage (which could only be determined by scoping him.) Of course, as you can imagine I am worried sick. This is not colic, but because this is so strange and I don't know what is causing it or how I can help him to feel better, it is almost worse. And from what I have read, horses can develop this head shaking behaviors for various reasons and it might not go away. Today was an unusually sunny, warm day. I heard the pollen count was high. At this point I know I am going to worry myself sick until I can find out how he is tomorrow. I am also calling the vet back tomorrow to schedule an appointment to finish his shots, I am hoping to get an appointment on Tuesday so if he is still having the irritation and head shaking they can assess him then. My sister is home all day tomorrow and said she would keep an eye on him, and if seemed to get worse, she will call me so that I could leave work and get an emergency vet out. Have any of you experienced this kind of situation or reaction with your horse? Irritating flies are one thing. But this is an extreme agitation, and it appears to be in his nose. He was fine when I saw him on Friday. Yesterday was cool and rainy, and according to my sister he did not exhibit any of these behaviors. And he ate all his breakfast hay this morning. I took a lot of pictures and videos of his head shaking while he was eating his grain and hay, I will try to get the video downloaded and on here but I am not sure how to do it. I will keep you posted but please let me know if you have experienced this or know of anyone who has! I just want My Boy to be okay. I do not handle illnesses well, with myself, family members, or any beloved animal in my life.
Video of My Boy eating his hay:
Miss Lucie Grace
1 year ago