head tossing

Last week while adventure riding at White Mound, Nemo began to do something very uncharacteristic - toss his head. Not just a few times, but consistently. We thought maybe he got stung by a bee, or something flew up his nose. Brad checked him several times, but didn't see anything. Nemo stopped tossing his head while we took our rain break, but started up again as soon as we were back on the trail. Off and on again, he would bob his head (vertically) stretches at a time. We had quite the ride, full of distractions - and since the tossing stopped, we didn't think much of it.

Imagine our surprise when Trainer Patty called to say she wanted the vet to come out and check Nemo as soon as possible. After our trail ride they had ridden him in the indoor a couple days, and he was perfect. The first sunny day they headed outside, and he began to toss his head again. She knows Nemo well, and knew he wouldn't choose to do that for any other reason then something was wrong. They put a fly mask on him, rode him outside and he stopped tossing his head.

Needless to say we were worried. We wondered if he might have the beginning of uveitis? His breed (Appaloosa) and coloring make him more susceptible. I started Googling his symptoms,  which just fueled my worry. What if he was suffering from the painful Head Tossing Syndrome? While my head was running rampant, my practical husband reeled my "what if's" back in, as there was no need to get all worked up on the unknown.

We so wanted to be there for Nemo's appointment. Timing and distance make vet appointments at the Trainers hard, but at least we knew he would be in good hands.

Brad promptly got a call from our vet after checking Nemo out, as well as from our Trainer. Nemo's eyes are fine (whew) but he was suffering from allergies. The sun was compounding his discomfort by further irritating his nasal nerves, a form of photo sensitivity. Tossing his head
while elevated, was a way of relieving the pain. Vet Dave put him on an antihistamine, and he is to wear a fly mask while outside. After a week of letting things settle down, they will begin to try backing him off the fly mask & antihistamine -  and see if there are any reoccurring symptoms. The vet said this could be an isolated incident. Time will tell.

Nemo was a really good boy for Brad when we rode last week. He did everything asked, and no sign of tossing. The fly mask really helps, here is the big guy ~ stylin'



Just Ramblin' said...

Totally stylin' ! That is so interesting that the fly mask helps in such a way. Sounds like things will be ok. : ) Gorgeous horse.

Anonymous said...

There's also a nose net you can get that seems to help a lot of horses with head-shaking. A surprising number of horses seen to have this problem.

Shirley said...

Glad you found an easy solution so quickly.

Dreaming said...

Your trainer is on top of things! I'm impressed with how quickly the vet responded and pin-pointed a possible cause. I hope it is an isolated situation and that it clears up. How very interesting - one doesn't think of animals suffering from allergies!

Sherry Sikstrom said...

glad you got it figured out

aurora said...

Thanks all :) Nemo is Brad's heart horse, he's a very special guy. The whole thing is very interesting, and came on so fast. Much like human allergies, we'll have to see what the future brings. We are very thankful for our caring trainer & vet.

It is amazing a fly mask, that is see through, can provide instant relief. We also learned Nemo didn't toss his head in the field, because of his grazing position. It all makes sense now.

C-ingspots said...

We've seen and treated several horses for head tossing at our clinic. Seems like this condition is on the rise in the last few years. So glad to hear Nemo's eyesight is ok...my Appy was 12 when we learned he was almost completely blind. That's a much tougher condition to accept.