Observations on headshaking in the horse



The clinical records of 100 cases of headshaking in horses were reviewed. Possible causes of the abnormal behaviour were identified in 11 animals; these included ear mite infestation, otitis interna, cranial nerve dysfunction, cervical injury, ocular disease, guttural pouch mycosis, dental periapical osteitis and suspected vasomotor rhinitis. However, in only two of these could it be shown that correction of the abnormality led to elimination of the headshaking. The additional clinical signs exhibited by the other idiopathic cases of headshaking included evidence of nasal irritation, sneezing and snorting, nasal discharge, coughing and excessive lacrimation. Many of these horses also showed a marked seasonal pattern with respect to the onset of the disease and the recurrence of signs in subsequent years. The clinical presentation of idiopathic headshakers and the seasonal incidence of the signs closely resemble allergic rhinitis in man.