Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What the fling?

Sunday was my last ride with Jacquie for a few months. I know we'll ride again together when she comes back in late spring to pick up Teddy and cart him off to Colorado, but, it was still a sad ride.

The boys were happy to be out and able to really stretch their legs, the wind chilly, and we both came back to the house with wind-burned faces and muscle-sore bodies. We took advantage of riding as much over three days as we could possibly fit in, and it was good.

On another note, I'm a little concerned with a particular behavior Gabe has exhibited occasionally. The last time he did it I blamed it on the hard little ice pellets smacking him in the face while we rode during a sudden ice storm. This time, I'm trying to blame the high wind, but I'm not so sure. It was blowing pretty hard Sunday. Okay, really hard. So gusty were the winds that Jacquie and I couldn't talk because the wind just took our words away, even while riding next to each other.

See, during both those rides he started shaking/tossing his head. This is not his usual fling his head around and squeal with energy and happiness toss, but a quicker, up and down toss like something on his face was irritating him, or, a bug flew up his nose. He doesn't do it all the time, as I mentioned, just occasionally. The last couple of times there was something in the weather I blamed. When we rode Saturday, and the rides before that when the wind was normal and the sun shining, he didn't do it. He's done it occasionally during the spring/summer too, but I blamed it on the bugs we scare up from tall grass that may have hit him in the face and gone up his nose as they flew all around us.

I did a bit of research into Equine Headshaking Syndrome, and some of the the symptoms seem to match, but not all. He's not violent about it, and he only does it while we're riding. He DOES like to itch his nose/muzzle during and after our rides, which is a symptom, but, it's not really excessive and not any more than my other horses do. He doesn't seem to be in pain, just occasionally irritated, and he certainly doesn't do it out in the pasture or in the paddocks, just while we're riding.

There is a definite difference between his goofy, happy, horizontal head fling/swing and this vertical, sudden head toss. 

So, I don't know. I'm just going to keep an eye out for it and be more aware of it, maybe document it when it does happen and try to find some kind of pattern, if there is one.


  1. Aww, Gabe :( Something in his ears bugging him? If he's rocking a little ear pimple or something, I bet cold wind would suuuuuck.

  2. I think some horses are sensitive to wind. A friend of mine has a horse who has problems in the wind. I wonder if he would react differently if his ears were covered? Maybe he could wear cute little ear muffs!

  3. I was just thinking he could
    wear the ear crochet.in cold and wind. Mine seems to appreciate it.
    Hopes it's nothing worse, Jenn. I'll have to read up on that syndrome.
    Mine does a weirdo head toss, if she gets something in her eye. I usually jump off, check it out.

    I'm so sad too, for you to loose your riding friend /boarder.so glad you took that ride, kinda memorable, adventurous!

  4. The horses around here all prefer the leeward half of our beach walks. It's almost always windy here. They really don't care for heading into a strong headwind. Sounds like normal behavior to me.

    Hope a new trail partner shows up for you and Gabe!

  5. Does sound like the ice pellets and wind were bothering him, especially if he doesn't do it in nice weather. Hope that's all it is. Kudos for getting out and riding in that winter weather.