Gelding Age 7

History:  Brought over from Ireland, age 4. ? old injury  over left temporal mandibular region with loss of hair and boney lump, non tender to palpation. Used for preliminary/novice dressage and as pleasure horse.  Asked to assess and treat by veterinary surgeon from physiotherapy aspect as twisting and  snaking  of neck and shaking head, increasing in severity over the past few months. Now not safe to ride and referred back to vet by instructor Georgie Baker.  Treated with veterinary acupuncture {Phil Richards Veterinary Surgeon} with good relief for 2 - 3 weeks but then symptoms reoccurred. 

On assessment: Comfortable atlas/axis, solid through complex muscles bilaterally but left worse, no thickening of brachiocephalic muscles .  Spasm bilaterally through longtissimus dorsi muscles.  Spasm to gluteals worse right side.  On movement 1/10th lame bilaterally forelimbs in walk and trot on straight line and on two tracks for 2/3 steps then straight, with frequent shaking of head.  In obvious discomfort of 10 meter circles snaking of head and neck, worse on the left rein, 1/10th lame bilaterally forelimbs and snatching with right hind. No tripping noted. Teeth checked by dentist recently and satisfactory and saddle checked in past couple of months.

Referred back for assessment with veterinary surgeon and investigated including CT head.  No abnormality found.  Possible headshaker, discussed with vet and happy for further physio treatment.  On palpation reactive, solid and thickened over occipitomandibular muscle left side only.  Ultrasound administered severe reaction throwing head in the air, after 2/3 seconds, relaxed stretching head and neck long and low and yawned 20 times ++. Allowed to complete ultrasound through full neck bilaterally. Further massage and ultrasound through thoracic lumbar and gluteal muscle mass bilaterally.

Rehabilitation plan. 

  • 24 hours field rest and keep warm.
  • Can then start walking out in straight lines in hand for 15 - 20 minutes.. If attempts to snake with neck encourage to march forward rather than overbalance by try to correct.
  • Recommence neck stretches gently increasing the stretch and include mid neck - huggy stretch.
  • Feed hay on ground.
  • At 1 week comfortable with no signs of shaking  so commenced straight line ridden work, hacking out marching walk for 15 minutes upwards as pain levels and fatigue allowed.
  • Commenced ground poles twice a week
  • Won new saddle assessed by new saddle fitter and good fit

Regular physiotherapy every 2 weeks over 3 month period and Wotsit continued to go from strength to strength commencing some gentle schooling at around 6 - 8 weeks with regular changes of direction and bend to ensure able to maintain balance and not fatigue. Has taken part in preliminary dressage test at 3 months, with judge commenting on relaxed test.  Icing on the cake placed 5th.