Behavioral Issues

STEVE: Most of the behavioral issues involving the head are usually training problems, so I’ll leave that to the trainer.

ALEX: Well I think a lot of times, you know, behavioral issues with the head is a lot of things. I mean, as you approach a horse, if they shy away from you there would be some concern.

Or, how a horse were to carry their head. For instance, if one ear is up and one’s back, and their head’s cocked and there’s some concerns that need to be, you know, probably addressed.

A lot of times, when you introduce a bit to a horses mouth, if they don’t, you know, take it easily or if they act sore, or if they shy away, it could be an issue with their teeth. So I think there’s a lot of things to look at, not just one specific thing.

You know, sometimes, if a horse, you know, were to get a bath, and get some water in their ear, and their ear gets infected, there’s a lot of issues, so it’s one, when you approach the horse to see how they act to you, if they don’t shy away, they don’t spook or if you go to put the, you know, the bit in their mouth, you know, how they react to that.

And always watch their ears, because, you know, when a horse’s ears are forward, they have, pretty much have, you have their full attention. When they’re back they’re not, or when they’re cock-eyed or the horse’s head is tilted, there could be something, you know, maybe even a sinus issue or something with their ears or something like that, where maybe you need to call a veterinarian and have him looked at.

STEVE: Most of the time, what I’ve found is, you’re looking for symmetry, number one. I like to approach a horse to make sure that they still are, they can visualize you. And then we’d go ahead and move around to certain area’s and then I’d move their head and neck from each side, to see if they can go ahead an move their head around, cause a lot of times it can be a secondary problem due to a, say a neck injury, or sores, or something of that nature.

And I like to make sure that the obvious, is, you know, they don’t have nerve damage or something of this nature, that you look for, that their nose, and their muzzle is not tilted to one side or the other, which is a primary sign of nerve damage. That they can go ahead and bring their head around in both directions, and that they don’t have, like a, lack of tone in what, the musculature of their face, and that sort of thing, and that there’s no discharge, on one side or, you know, there’s not something stuck in their mouth, you know, whatever.

All these things can effect, you know, their overall behavior, or the head position, or what they do with their head and of course you know as far as their ears are concerned we’ll do a cursory examination of just the external ear itself, and sometimes even look down into the ear, make sure that there’s not an obstruction, something hasn’t gone in there, make sure there’s not an insect or infestation of some sort, or something is basically, you know, basically is a problem with their ear being dirty and there’d be a bunch of wax built up in there. Sometimes that can really effect horses.