COULD YOUR 'HEADSHY' HORSE HAVE A CHRONIC HEADACHE?

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“All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as self evident." Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

The current focus in medicine (include physio in that) is on evidence based assessment and treatment. Whilst I am very much in favour of this, I think that like most things this should be adhered to in moderation. After all, if we only ever used treatments that were proven (from a scientific point of view) to work, then nothing new would ever be discovered. Plus the statistics are that something like 50% of the science that is 'proven' today will be 'disproven' within 5 years. 
 
Sue Palmer- 2014 pic  headshy  horse
So often I work with a horse by following my instinct. Often I feel frustrated that I am not following a more scientific approach, but what I do seems to help the horses, and my training and core principles are most certainly based on science, so perhaps the 'instinctive approach' is simply something extra on top of the underlying science. It's difficult when I can't explain to an owner exactly what I am doing or how or why it works, but the results speak for themselves. I am continually searching for more answers, and ongoing learning is a passion rather than a chore.

A while ago I commented to a client that I believe a horse who is headshy is more likely to be spooky. In my opinion, this is because headshy horses probably have some level of permanent equine headache, and I believe that a horse whose head is continually hurting is more likely to be spooked, because the pain would keep his body on high alert.

There is no evidence to support this, and I doubt whether anyone funding research will ever get interested enough in the subject to investigate it. But on a very small level, I ask each of my clients many questions about their horse, including asking whether he is headshy (or earshy) and is he spooky. In my mind there is a link.

In the same vein, I believe that mare-ish behaviour and headshaking are also linked to being headshy (or earshy). And yes, in many cases I believe that good physio (osteo / chiro / massage) can help, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the horse.

No matter how much you know, there's always so much more to know....

Sue Palmer Chartered Veterinary Physiotherapist and Equine Behavioural Consultant Tel: 07976 413488 Web: www.holistichorsehelp.com
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