Bridle issues

NSD

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8 May 2022
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Hi all could you give me your thoughts on what I'm experiencing with my mare please. Bit of background - I've had her since a 2 year old and she was in the same home since birth prior to me so know her full history. Hs no problem with ears or face being touched, has had full work up by very highly regarded equine physio and no pain/ discomfort or abnormality found and the vet has carried out a neuro workup on her and says everything is as it should be. Saddle has been checked firs well and is lightweight.

Was always completely normal having a headcollar put on and off but disliked from the start having a bridle put on over her ears (threw head about a bit nothing spectacular).
She is now rising 5 and we are simply hacking out for a couple of hours in walk and a tiny bit of trot a couple of times a week. Around 6 months post being backed she started headshaking slightly when ridden, not the normal head up and down shake, it is like a dog shakes its head when it gets wet. Its not constant, once every couple of minutes or so but will start the moment the bridle is put on, until it is taken off. I have tried various different types of anatomical headpiece which haven't helped at all and am now riding in simply a headpiece (no noseband or browband) with a comfort poll guard on the headpiece that I have to undo to put on and take off over her neck rather than putting it over her ears. She doesn't even like the reins being put over her head, I have to take those apart too. By the end of the ride she is so irritated by the bridle that she is rubbing her head all over me while I'm trying to untack her. The minute her bridle is off, she is absolutely fine and doesn't shake again.

While I am riding she has also started doing full body shakes (again like a dog when it gets wet) and twitching her neck/wither area as it she has a fly on it. Again she doesn't do this at all when not being ridden.

She is a very thin skinned mare and very sensitive and all of this only occurs when ridden. (I have ridden her in a headcollar too but she still does it). She just doesn't like anything around the back of her ears although she is fine to have her ears touched like I said before.

I have just started her on magnesium as I thought it could be nerve related what with the twitching and shaking. I have done a bute test to rule out pain but she still did it. I have tried her on antihistamines but they made no difference and she doesn't this in all seasons and all weather. I cant put an ear bonnett on her in case she is being bothered by anything as she wont have it near her ears. She does have a very thick mane and forelock that could possible tickle her ears so I have taken that really short to rule that out. I did previously tried plaiting her forelock and the first 3 inches of mane to stop if toughing her ears but she didn't like the plaits either and shock her head until the bands and plaits fell out!.

I really don't know what to think of next - any one have any ideas or throughs of what is irritating her?

Thanks in advance
 

SEL

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25 February 2016
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I have a headshaker - its very frustrating. She's currently in a bridle which looks like a child has pulled together from spares lying around the place.

Teeth all ok? If so then I'd get a physio out if you haven't already just to confirm there's nothing tight or out of alignment. Its also worth making sure the neck and back are ok too - we think some of the headshaking in mine is due to close spinal processes at her withers, but she also gets hayfever so right now its impossible to check that theory.
 

NSD

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8 May 2022
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I have a headshaker - its very frustrating. She's currently in a bridle which looks like a child has pulled together from spares lying around the place.

Teeth all ok? If so then I'd get a physio out if you haven't already just to confirm there's nothing tight or out of alignment. Its also worth making sure the neck and back are ok too - we think some of the headshaking in mine is due to close spinal processes at her withers, but she also gets hayfever so right now its impossible to check that theory.
Thanks for your reply. Yes teeth all fine, physio has checked everything and nothing found at all. Everything I've researched about headshaking relates to an up and down motion whereas mine shakes like a dog and I haven't found anything referring to that motion?
 

daydreamer

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hmm, I can't offer much advice except maybe trying an osteopath who specialises in cranial work. I had problems bridling my youngster because he didn't like his left ear touched. I got an osteopath out a couple of times who treated him by standing by his wither with her hand on his back for about an hour. If I hadn't previously seen/done some Masterson method which is also very very gentle I would have thought I was wasting my money. It took a little while for him to be ok with having his ear touched - anticipation I think, but now he is fine. Might be worth a try.
 

NSD

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Joined
8 May 2022
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hmm, I can't offer much advice except maybe trying an osteopath who specialises in cranial work. I had problems bridling my youngster because he didn't like his left ear touched. I got an osteopath out a couple of times who treated him by standing by his wither with her hand on his back for about an hour. If I hadn't previously seen/done some Masterson method which is also very very gentle I would have thought I was wasting my money. It took a little while for him to be ok with having his ear touched - anticipation I think, but now he is fine. Might be worth a try.
Thanks I'll look into that.
 

DawnS

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4 December 2017
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43
I posted with a similar but less severe version of the same thing a few weeks ago. In my gelding's case he would shake after a while when his ears/poll area got hot and tight, same pattern of sideways shaking rather than nose shaking.

Someone on that thread suggested trying a Horsemanship saddlery bridle, which I duly did. I have only just got mine so can't say whether it makes a difference but the proprietor offers a variety of different headpieces according to the conformation of your horse's head - it says on their site that it's no good expecting something generally 'anatomical' to fit every horse, which sort of makes sense. If you email her with pictures, she will recommend one (she is a little brisk, but seems to know her stuff). Also you can buy just the headpiece, so cheaper than a whole bridle.

In addition I use a mcTimoney practitioner for my horse who is very good, and a vet who specialises in dentistry - not all are equal!
 

NSD

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Joined
8 May 2022
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I posted with a similar but less severe version of the same thing a few weeks ago. In my gelding's case he would shake after a while when his ears/poll area got hot and tight, same pattern of sideways shaking rather than nose shaking.

Someone on that thread suggested trying a Horsemanship saddlery bridle, which I duly did. I have only just got mine so can't say whether it makes a difference but the proprietor offers a variety of different headpieces according to the conformation of your horse's head - it says on their site that it's no good expecting something generally 'anatomical' to fit every horse, which sort of makes sense. If you email her with pictures, she will recommend one (she is a little brisk, but seems to know her stuff). Also you can buy just the headpiece, so cheaper than a whole bridle.

In addition I use a mcTimoney practitioner for my horse who is very good, and a vet who specialises in dentistry - not all are equal!
Thank you I'll look at their website. Can you update me when you've formed a view on your new bridle if you get a chance please?
 

DawnS

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4 December 2017
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43
Thank you I'll look at their website. Can you update me when you've formed a view on your new bridle if you get a chance please?
Just popping in to say I haven't ridden in it enough to really know yet BUT I've done two schooling sessions this week and he has been incredible. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! I guess I'll see next week if it was a fluke or not...
 

NSD

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Just popping in to say I haven't ridden in it enough to really know yet BUT I've done two schooling sessions this week and he has been incredible. I was grinning like a Cheshire cat! I guess I'll see next week if it was a fluke or not...
That is incredible, thanks for updating me. I'm just waiting for someone to contact me from horsemanship saddlery to discuss. Fingers crossed the change continues for you.
 

DawnS

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4 December 2017
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@NSD another update...sadly while his schooling generally has been good the random headshaking episodes returned with a vengeance during a dressage test. This at least meant I got it on video so sent to the vet who prescribed a bute trial - he in fact got worse with bute and clearly unhappy so now suspect ulcers and have a gastroscope booked. So no magic bullet, sadly!
 
Joined
8 May 2022
Messages
6
@NSD another update...sadly while his schooling generally has been good the random headshaking episodes returned with a vengeance during a dressage test. This at least meant I got it on video so sent to the vet who prescribed a bute trial - he in fact got worse with bute and clearly unhappy so now suspect ulcers and have a gastroscope booked. So no magic bullet, sadly!
A step closer to determining a reason why though. Good luck with the scope. My new headpeice/ bridle has been dispatched so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for some improvement.
 
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