Finally, the long month of January is over and February has arrived, bringing with it the prospect of spring and an end to those long, dark nights. For some riders though, spring heralds the return of those dreaded headshaking symptoms. Whilst many agree headshaking is incurable, very little thought has been given as to whether cranial compression could be part of the problem. Craniosacral therapy though has had some great results in easing the symptoms, with some cases ceasing for a long period of time.

The trouble with headshaking is that little is actually known about the condition. Conventional treatment ranges from sedatives, antihistamines, injections, or in extreme cases, cutting the ethmoid or trigeminal nerves. What is now starting to be found though is that many springtime headshakers treated with craniosacral therapy are found to have some kind of cranial compression around their sinus bones. Such compression puts pressure on the nerves in this area, specifically the trigeminal and ethmoid nerves, causing pain and burning sensations with horses headshaking to relieve themselves of the discomfort. When spring arrives, the rise in allergens prompts the sinus tissues to expand to protect the airways. In horses with cranial compression however, there is little to no room for the sinus cavity to expand, hence the return of those dreaded headshaking symptoms.

The problem with cranial compression is that it can have happened even without you knowing. Most head trauma is only investigated if there has been a break in the skin, but compression can be caused from a variety of things ranging from ill-fitting bridles and headcollars, a pull back, a knock on a fence post etc. etc.

Some horses may never become springtime headshakers, despite having had some kind of head trauma, but with 34 bones in a horse’s skull it is a puzzle as to which bones have been affected and in which order. All I can say is that the headshakers I have come across have all presented with cranial compression.

So, if you’re dreading the return of spring and the end of enjoyable rides out, why not give craniosacral therapy a go? Whilst it’s never too late to start, you don’t need to leave treatment until signs of headshaking start to show. So why not start now and make the arrival of spring a time to look forward to, rather than one filled with anxiety as you wait for those dreaded symptoms of headshaking to return?