Hunter/Jumper - 7 years old, no show record to speak of, but very lovely horse. Owner thinks head shaking will have no effect on sale or sale price.
What do you think?
Headshaking can be so mild it's barely noticeable or so severe the horse has to be retired from riding. It can be managed to some degree, sometimes. Or not.
For a hunter, it's a risk even if mild, since one episode in the ring can drop you out of the ribbons. For a jumper, not as much of an issue.
I'd expect it to affect price. I might consider a headshaker who is a proven showhorse and schoolmaster type as a learning/step-up horse where ribbons are less important, but I'd pass on an unproven prospect personally.
If sold with full disclosure it will certainly affect the price. If not, and the headshaking is seasonal they may get away with not telling, getting the price they ask for and having someone very unhappy with them later...
One of my OTTBs is a headshaker. Vet is thinking he is the Trigeminal Headshaker. Started 1 1/2 years after I brought him home. Apparently it manifests between 7-9 years old. It started when he turned 9. He was always touchy about his neck and face but the shaking began later. And it is pretty bad. VERY difficult to ride him since the head flipping will not stop. So we put him on Cyrpoheptadine and like magic, headshaking was minimal. I took him off after a month, just to see and WOW, headshaking was 10x worse and it only took 2 days of no drug.
Problem with the drug is that it is not legal for shows. I also learned that if he got the drug in his feed, it had some effect. If I squirt into his mouth, amazing results. Zero headshaking for 30-36 hours. Thus every AM I head out with my little syringe of water and cypro, and a dob of honey on the tip. He loves it. Takes it so willingly.
Right now I have reduced his cypro dose to see how he does. It is a tad pricey at $65 a month but I also want to see if I can show him at some point so seeing if he can be slowly taken off, when does the headshaking begin again and see if a show can be in his future. Since the shaking did start last year around September when I got a load of hay from a different supplier, I still have hopes that it is allergies or anything but a nerve issue. Thus I will keep trying to find a better solution than cypro. We ruled out photic since he kept shaking during the winter.
Thus if you have your heart set on showing, a headshaker with the trigeminal nerve issue may not be the best choice. IF you are fine with scheduling shows around symptoms, may work but the seller should reduce the price if the horse is a known headshaker.
IF a photic headshaker, I hear those guys are more manageable and do not need the forbidden drug thus showing is more of an option.
Personally, no. Our youngster shakes his head (it's seasonal, we bought him in winter) and he's a lovely horse, don't get me wrong, but it's not worth the stress when there are so many horses out there with no medical issues. I have no doubt it will affect his showing career.
Have a friend who has a trail horse with photic headshaking. His is due to seasonal allergies -- he begins when the pollen starts and tapers off throughout the summer. he doesn't do it at all in the winter. He is quite rideable with one of the nose-nets on, impossible without it. Assuming nose-nets are legal in your showing discipline I'd test-ride with the net to see if it worked on him before making a commitment.
Having owned a head shaker in the past - and knowing how difficult and debilitating it can be - no, I would not buy a head shaker. I was able to manage him on Cyproheptadine (which is not show legal) and a hair net over his nose... but during the period where we couldn't figure out what was bothering him... it was really very heartbreaking for me.
Ultimately, I had NO trouble selling him (found a new home for him within a week). I priced him a little lower than I would have otherwise, but the girl who bought him was not bothered at all about the head shaking, and I gave her full disclosure. Did not ask about it, and it has not been an issue for her.
My heart horse, a homebred nine year old, started headshaking last year. While he has a home for life with me I would never knowingly buy another. Even without the issue of never knowing if/when you can show, for me it's heartbreaking to watch him when he's having tics. His seems allergy-related so far but we're still figuring out his triggers and what works for him. Again, I would never, ever go into it on purpose.
It's not about the color of the ribbon but the quality of the ride. Having said that, I'd like the blue one please!
Add me to the "I wouldn't take one if they gave it to me" camp. My sister once owned a horse that developed headshaking. None of the standard remedies had much, if any, effect and he was completely unrideable in the spring and summer. Plus, it was just heartbreaking to watch him.