Headshaking is a common behavioural problem but it is, however, poorly understood. It occurs most frequently during the summer months and is often worse during sunny days as opposed to overcast ones.
The signs of headshaking in horses vary considerably. Some horses may just twitch their head from side to side whilst others will develop vigorous up and down movements of their heads. Additionally the horse may try to rub its nose with its forelimb. The condition is more common in the summer and in horses that are being actively ridden, especially outdoors.
What are the causes of headshaking?
The exact cause of headshaking is often difficult to identify but can be due to a number of things including fly worrying, poor fitting tack, lameness, ear mites or an allergy. Additionally bright sunlight is thought to play a role as well as more serious conditions of the head such as tumours or nerve problems.
Headshaking is a frustrating condition to treat but your veterinary surgeon will attempt to identify an underlying cause and initiate an appropriate treatment. They will also advise you further on preventative measures you can take to reduce or eliminate the problem.
In addition, some things that you could try include using fly masks and/ or repellents, changing the field that your horse is usually turned out into (offering more shade or moving away from particular agricultural crops), or changing the nature of work that your horse does.