A serious issue emerged yesterday which kept me from ponying Beautiful. It started when I got Cowboy and went to saddle him. When I lifted the saddle towards him he panicked a bit like he didn't know what it was and pulled back. He did this before with fly spray before a ride, but he's never done it with a saddle. Last week one of my stirrups fell off and when I went around to the side where I needed to reattach it, he got the same look in his eye.
I decided to work him in the round pen to see what was going on and he started doing all this head-shaking and stamping and rubbing of his nose on his foot. He couldn't even think properly--which made him dangerous. I asked my husband to film some of it. My husband thought it was all behavioral--which, in some ways, is true. First, he gets the tickling or whatever is happening in the nose, and then he wants to charge back to the herd for safety. He seems unsure of what's happening to him and very frustrated by it.
I worked with him for over two hours and by the time we were done--in the heat of day--he wasn't doing it as much, but there was still the occasional rubbing of the nose and frustration while I was in the saddle.
I decided to separate him from the herd and put him back in a stall to observe him. He stayed in the barn all day, seeming to want to be away from the sun. His personality returned back to normal.
I'm going to go out again today to work with him. The pulling back is really strange because it seems like he doesn't really see what's coming at him. The head-shaking, stamping reminds me of a horse who has been stung by a bee or has a horse-fly stuck to him--this mindless trying to escape.
I just observed him, moments ago, in his run and he was doing the same thing, but on a more minor scale--bobbing his head and rubbing it against his leg. The whole thing is very disturbing. I'm going to let my vet see the footage below so she can get a better idea of what I'm talking about. If anyone out there has any ideas, you're welcome to share them. It makes me heart-sick to see my normally sweet horse like this.
http://headshakingsyndrome.com/criteria.html This is hallmark head-shaking syndrome with the vertical, involuntary head-tossing and the striking at his nose and trying to escape the pain. I would say he was a 5-6 on their scale.