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Tilted Head

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  • Tilted Head

    Not sure if I should ask one of the riding forums too.

    I rescued a horse a year ago - it was a real rescue in the sense - he was just in someone's 1/2 acre yard where he had been abandoned and they did not know what to do and were giving him a scoop of grain and that is it. He was very skinny and completely unbroke. His halter had been embedded into his face as it appears to have been put on as a baby and he just grew into it.

    I started riding him a little last summer and did not really start real training until recently. He is a nice, healthy looking shiney coated - something. Like he clearly is half paint but the other half could be something connemara like - he is 14.1 with a big hunter stride and his movement and mindset are very not QH like.

    I have had all shots, teeth done, chiropractor.... he was at first off in the left front. Then I noticed his head tilts slightly to the left. So of course I had his teeth done right then and called the chiro out. The chiro said there was nothing wrong with his anatomy - it was an old shoulder injury maybe in a pasture or something.

    Well, he is now totally not lame on that side ever and he picks up both leads. However, its like his head is always slightly bent to the left. The only way he goes straight through his back and through his body is to ask him to round as he bends.

    DO you think my chiro was wrong? Do you think he is anatomically curved to one direction or does this sound like a result of a shoulder injury? Any ideas? I rode believe it or not a horse through second level who had had a 'broken' neck as a baby (like a vertebra messed up in his neck)- and I had to ride him deep to keep him straight to one side - and he always had a drippy eye on that side. My horse now doesnt have that or any other symptom except that on occasion he will flip his head in a way that is pretty unnecessary - he has not had his mouth abused with a bit...

  • #2
    I have to wonder it there was possibly some nerve damage from the ill fitting halter. Just a thought.

    \"If you are going through hell, keep going.\" ~Churchill~


    • #3
      Originally posted by LaraNSpeedy View Post
      The only way he goes straight through his back and through his body is to ask him to round as he bends.
      Wouldn't you want to be doing that anyway?

      Not seeing or riding him, obviously, it is very likely that he's just developed an inherent preference for carrying himself, and once you straighten him, he's perfectly capable of staying straight, within his fitness of course.

      If he straightens when you ask him, then I would keep asking him, since it sounds like how you are straightening him is what you should be doing anyway
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


      • #4
        Check his vision and have a neurological exam done. A head tilt can mean both. Horses with vision problems in one eye will often compensate by tilting their head so they have the "good" eye more forward. And a main symptom of peripheral vestibular disorder is a head tilt. I have a horse with both and he has a pronounced head tilt to the right. I've managed to train him to be more straight most of the time, but when he's in a new environment or stressed it comes out full force.
        If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
        ~ Maya Angelou


        • Original Poster

          Well, sure I want him straight but we jump too so I cant have him deep and round all the time. He only bends through his body in a straight way if he's somewhat deep. When I ask him to be at say a training level degree of depth, to the right I can see his eye clearly - to the left I am lucky to see his lashes even if the neck is correctly bent. Its like his head is put on slightly off straight. But the chiropractor said there was nothing in his bone structure to show he is build crooked. He said it was compensation from the shoulder.

          His vision is good the vet said - he is OVERLY sensitive to sound though. If I make any funny noises like a pucker kiss or cluck or anything like that - he spooks. He is very sensitive to funny noises. So I have wondered if his hearing is too sensitive? I have been trying to desensitize him - and I laugh at him when he acts all upset and try to get him to just relax. Its coming along but that is how he is. In some ways his oversensitively is very nice. I can get him to move laterally with a thought.


          • #6
            What are you doing to try to straighten him in the less round position?
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


            • Original Poster

              When I am riding him - I can tell his head is tilted when I am asking him to go straight and not asking him to round deep. And he has issues bending not his neck as a whole but the part by the head/poll. I am not sure if he IS bending and his head is malformed into a tilt and that is the best I am going to get OR if I should be asking him to push through it and try to get his head to be straight. The chiro said his bones are straight. He said the shoulder was the issue. Right now his shoulder and front appears to be straight, even and moving correctly. But his head is still tilted slightly.

              And he throws his head a little - seems to be when I ask him to straighten his tilt. I cant be sure but I feel a little at a loss because if the vet says he is fine and the chiropractor said he is fine. But then I see the tilt.... ?


              • #8
                I would have another chiro evaluate him. Some are better than others with crooked heads.
                "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
                The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.


                • #9
                  Ive seen a horse be out at the poll and have a head tilt. When it was fixed it got better. Did the chiro look at that.
                  “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” Peter Drucker


                  • Original Poster

                    He said he did - I specifically asked about this issue but maybe I should have him out again or find someone else. I just feel like this is not resolved.


                    • #11
                      I'd still consider a good neurological workup and/or vision. Did the vet take him in a dark room and shine a light in his eye? Head tilt/over sensitivity to sound are both symptoms that Pi has that are part of the damage to his inner ear. He's deaf in his left ear and has peripheral vestibular disorder in that ear from trauma. There are times when a sound just sets him off - I typically figure his hearing is so muted normally that at times when he hears something fully it has to be like screaming in his ear.
                      If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                      ~ Maya Angelou


                      • #12
                        poor fella...

                        His history of neglect may have something to do with it. Do you think he had good old fashion poll evil at one point due to the halter and it messed him up somehow? Hearing, neuro, nerves in the poll?

                        I also have a little Arab mare that had a severe head tilt while she was getting broke to ride. She was started later (7?) and it took some training and chiro to get a one sided stiff poll issue worked out of her. Don't know if she had any trauma before coming to us as an unbroke 5 year old.

                        Then there is my friend who learned the hard way about not letting foals run loose while bringing in mama. Her nice filly was running along loose after mama into the barn aisle from turnout. I think going from light to dark disoriented her and she ran head long into a metal mesh stall front. Totally butchered her neck vertabrae. She is a yearling and will forever have a wierd head tilt. Vets say no pain, just permanent bone and soft tissue damage that keeps her from carrying her head straight. When she is kept in for any length of time with no turnout, it gets markedly worse. She needs the natural grazing position of extended turnout to keep herself limbered up.

                        Let us know if you get any more pro opinions on this. very curious. Don't you wish they could talk!
                        ...don't sh** where you eat...


                        • Original Poster

                          I sure do wish he could talk. The way he acts in the pasture - I dont think he has hearing loss - I have an older horse who does and there is a big difference and his vision appears good - he judges distances on jumps well.... but you never know. I am open to being wrong.

                          But I am concerned there is some kind of issue and I want to fix it obviously - I am really endeared to him especially because he was clearly neglected and the way he acts - abused but yet he moves so well and is such a handsome horse. I just dont get people.

                          Anyone know of a chircopractor in middle TN?


                          • #14
                            Last head tilt we had was on a dog and it was her atlas. Chiro fixed it completely, as in never seen again, in four visits. This can happen with horses too. Just a thought.


                            • #15
                              The occiput is another section of the head that can put a head on "crooked". It doesn't necessarily keep the horse from being straight, but it's more comfortable for him to tilt.
                              The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET