I was out in Chesapeake the other day working on a gorgeous thoroughbred horse, a grandson of Secretariat, who had the unmistakable look of Nasrullah in his eye. He was well over 17 hands and put together nicely. He nearly walked over 3’6″ fences I was told. But, he was being plagued by a condition known as Head Shaking, which some have said is Trigeminal Neuralgia.
Headshaking syndrome in horses is a perplexing challenge. It is found all over the planet, I am told it is mostly seasonal, and afflicts mainly geldings who are over 10. Well, that would fit the bill perfectly for Charlie. It is characterized predominantly by vertical head tossing or flicking and muzzle irritation observed as rubbing on objects and sneezing but the cause is actually unknown.
If Charlie is suffering from Trigeminal neuralgia, then he may have to deal with sudden bursts of facial pain. The current opinion is now in favor of a neurovascular conflict: an artery that has an offending contact with the trigeminal nerve root. Trigeminal neuralgia is diagnosed as having pain with distribution along one or more of the trigeminal nerves, the pain is sudden, intense, precipitated by triggers, has periods of remission, no neurological deficits and all other causes have been excluded. I worked with humans who have been afflicted by this condition and I can tell you there is a great deal of suffering.
There is an assumption now in the medical field that a horse that is suffering from head-shaking syndrome is having the same syndrome cluster-tic syndrome that my patients have. The good news is that one session of craniosacral therapy totally relieved Charlie of the syndrome. Now it may not “hold”. But, I believe we are on the right path. Consider craniosacral therapy for your horse. http://www.lyonsinstitute.com/equinemassage.html