A case-controlled study investigating health, management and behavioural features of horses commonly described as headshakers

Taylor, K. D. and Cook, S. and Mills, Daniel S. (2001) A case-controlled study investigating health, management and behavioural features of horses commonly described as headshakers. Ippologia, 12 (3). pp. 29-37. ISSN 1120-5776

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Abstract

There is much opinion about putative risk factors associated with headshaking, however these factors have not been investigated in a rigorous scientific manner to date. A case-control study involving 83 pairs (headshaker and matched non-headshaker control) of general-purpose riding horses was therefore conducted. The results suggest that headshakers may be at a slightly higher risk of developing non-respiratory allergies, but management factors, in general, were not found to be significant in the occurrence of the disorder. The owners of headshakers were more likely to use non- conventional therapies such as homeopathy and back specialists for treating their horses. This might be a consequence of their frustration with failed attempts to find successful conventional veterinary treatments for the headshaking condition. Comparison of the symptoms of the two groups suggested that many of the behavioural signs associated with headshaking are reported to occur only rarely if at all in horses not described as headshakers by their owners. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that headshaking is a sign of head pain rather than a behavioural or reactive state. In this case attention should be paid to different potential causes of such a potential complaint. A careful exploration of the horses' symptomatology, response to trial treatments and history may be more useful aids to a diagnosis than examination of current management practices and diet.

Keywords:Horses
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D328 Animal Welfare
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:9100
Deposited On:07 May 2013 07:54

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