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The Many Mysteries of Headshaking Syndrome

All horses shake their heads sometimes. While the skin on a horse’s flanks or abdomen can twitch to dislodge a fly, the skin on his face doesn’t have that ability. So, if a fly lands on your gelding’s face, he will instead shake his head to get rid of it. Horses shake their heads for other reasons too: your mare might find the position of the halter on her head annoying, so she shakes her head to move it away from a sensitive area. Your horse may also shake his head impatiently as you wait to enter the jumping ring – all perfectly normal. As a medical or behavioural condition, though, headshaking refers to a horse that repeatedly shakes his head, even when there is no apparent reason. It appears to be involuntary, and the horse often appears to be in distress. The headshaking is usually an up-and-down movement – like…

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