I wrote to you two years ago regarding headshaking in my now 15-year-old Quarter Horse mare. At the time, you had a little information. Now it is good to see a more in-depth perspective that provides a lot of avenues for frustrated owners to pursue (March 1999). However, your article did miss an inexpensive, easy option: a nylon stocking. My horse didn’t respond to many of the treatments in your article, but when we put a nylon stocking around her nostrils, she seems incredibly relieved.
I cut across the leg of the stocking as high up as needed to comfortably fit my horse and cut small ties out of the top of the material that I attach to the cavesson. I cut the foot part off, which leaves the bottom open. This allows the mare to open her mouth and breath comfortably. The stocking only needs to cover her nostrils. Obviously, it doesn’t last forever, but the cost is minimal, and I rinse it out after every use. I buy store-brand stockings in queen or larger sizes in brown or tan. But be prepared for unflattering remarks from those unaware of this frustrating condition. The Horse Journal article will hopefully educate many of these people.
I felt like I was reading my story when I read the letter “Rogaine For Horses'” (April 1999). I’ve had the same problem with photosensitivity, resulting in nose hair loss and skin irritation with my six-year-old Oldenberg-Thoroughbred mare. I talked with several vets, went through most of the procedures you recommended, all to no avail. We tried a wide variety of anti-fungal creams. We did blood work and a biopsy, which came back fine.
My mare also seems to have an allergic reaction to petroleum-based products. I had tried zinc ointment and diaper creams, but they made her nose worse. The same was true for sunscreen. One vet recommended night turn out only, but my mare is a full-time pasture horse.
I decided that if I couldn’t treat the cause, I would treat the symptom. I made a veil for her nose from polar fleece, which repels water. I sewed the polar-fleece piece from one side of a breakaway halter to the other above the noseband, and then reinforced it by sewing it to the noseband itself. We experimented with the length. If we made it too long, she’d flip her head, causing the fabric to fold up and expose her nose. We put it on during the day only. Now my mare has hair on her nose. While I’d love to solve the root cause, at least I have a workable solution for her.