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Vaccines for a Headshaker?

My horse started headshaking this spring while on a 5 month layup. It was around the time of spring shots, so I’m thinking that vaccines could have possibly caused it. It started first for 3 days around the time of the vaccines (but I cant be sure that it wasnt BEFORE the vaccines). Then went away for a while. then came back for a day VIOLENTLY. Then went away again. Then came back in June and has been here ever since. He HAS improved a TON and his symptoms are no longer bad at all. It is starting to cool off and things are starting to die (fall in NE ohio). My vet was out last week and thinks it’s allergies and not photic headshaking (he started the first time on a cloudy rainy day in his stall). It is our first summer at a new barn and allergies are bad.
We pulled blood for an allergy test, should get results back soon.
Vet recommended not vaccinating for flu/rhino, but I’m thinking of moving to a new barn where it would be required. Is there a way to vaccinate for flu/rhino that they WONT react to (as in wont cause HS symptoms)?
Ive heard of a flu/rhino vaccine up the nose- would that be safe?
If allergy test comes back and we conclude the headshaking is because of allergies, I’ll probably vaccinate him
if it comes back negative and we dont know what the cause is, I’ll be very reluctant to vaccinate him.
any experiences?

EDIT: I guess what i’m asking is is there a different FORM of the flu/rhino vaccine that horses dont react to?
a friend of mine (her horse started HS this summer and his symptoms are like my horse) got her horse’s flu/rhino up the nose and said that he hasnt had an adverse reaction (its only been about a week though)

I have a horse that head shakes from allergies. I have never had him tested but have noticed that when they cut the grass or pollen is high he gets worse. Allergies were horrible this year due to the weather. He is currently doing well and I even got through a dressage test with not even a head flick.

Mine doesn’t react to vaccines (that I am aware of), but from what I have read, the best way to vaccinate sensitive horses is to only do the necessary vaccines, do them individually and space them out as much as possible. If the vet does your vaccinations, ask him to leave them at the farm and do them yourself so they can be spread out.

thank you! yes we have had some 100% HS free days, and also some days hes miserable. Hopefully we get some answers with the allergy testing

There was a company called Capstar that sold medications for headshakers that they tailored to the individual horse based upon the answers to an extensive questionnaire. They then tweaked that formulation based upon the results or lack there of to their medication. I had a headshaker that was helped tremendously by their medication years ago. They advised people to never vaccinate for anything ever again which was a little overboard in my opinion but they did see a very strong correlation based upon the onset or exacerbation of symptoms following vaccination which is why they took that stance. You need to make the best decision for your horse but think back to the last time he was vaccinated when making that decision.

The usef has a veterinary exemption to the flu/rhino vaccine-- maybe the farm will too? I did not find that it made a difference with my head shaker but they are all different.

Highflyer- the barn had a rhino outbreak last year, so the manager will not make an exception, which i 100% understand

Laurlerace- does capstar exist anymore? cant find it :confused:

Laurlerace- does capstar exist anymore? cant find it :/[/QUOTE]

No, they are gone. It’s too bad because their website had a wealth of info on headshaking as well. There is still a yahoo group on headshaking I believe that has posters who are extremely knowledgeable on the subject. See if you can find that.

ETA: I found their website so the info is still there you just can’t buy the product. http://www.headshaking.com/

Had a well-respected veterinarian tell me that he believed that head-shaking appearing after vaccination was related to a nerve being inflamed (caused by injection being too close to nerve). This was in response to my question about a horse that developed mild, intermittent head-shaking shortly after vaccination by another veterinarian.

Vaccinating vet, when questioned about this possibility, felt that it was unlikely, but future vaccinations were split into multiple sessions, given in different locations, and records kept on which vaccine had been injected where (similar to what is now done with cats), and the horse recovered.

As the owner of a headshaker myself, I do feel I should point out that it is very possible that spring agergies coincide incidentally with spring vaccinations…and the that it’s more likely that the airborne alergens are responsible for the HS than the shots.

I think there are way more causes of headshaking than we will ever know. Some are undoubtedly caused by allergens, some caused by irritation of the triminengeal sp? nerve, some caused by bright sunlight etc. That is why one horse’s miracle cure is another horse’s no effect whatsoever.

Flu/rhino can be given intranasally instead of by injection. I think it is the Calvenza brand. I don’t know if that will make any difference.

AKB- i was told by a vet yesterday that they can only get it intranasally IF they got their first dose of that vaccine IM. I dont know what my horse got this spring but will find out

arlosmine- a agree. If i do end up wanting to move to this barn I think im gonna take a chance and get him vaccinated. The headshaking started full blown in June, which was 2 months after the vaccine. the 3 day headshaking episode was around the time of the shots though, but part of me wants to say it was BEFORE the shots.

Well, if nothing else, use your re-vaccination as a time to keep good records on what happens when so you can know the relationship between episodes and the vaccines for future reference.

(I know all too well the ‘did that happen before or after’ thing.)

I own a headshaker and participated in a study where for a year I had to record informaton about his headshaking every day. Although I never could figure out the triggers, I’m sure there was no relationship to vaccinations.

Fortunately, the use of a muzzle net completely eliminates the HS. He’s also been on the Melatonin/Magnesium protocol from UC Davis (he was put on this as part of the study). My horse was 8 or 9 when he started HS-ing; when he turned 12 or so, it pretty much went away. At the same time, I’ve kept him on Melatonin/Magnesium because in the year that I did all the tracking, it seemed to really make a difference.

Each HS is different, of course. Good luck – it can be frustrating and heartbreaking to deal with.

got back blood tests today. highly allergic to ragweed. some others he’s allergic to (not as severe) are orchard grass, rye grass, cedar, and some fungus. the steroids he’s on now are helping and we’ll see what happens when we start to taper them off. might do allergy shots, if those don’t work then will try the dex pulsing. my vet said she feels very good about this so i am very hopeful!