Hello, I wasn't sure where to post this so I'll put it here.
I have an Andalusian colt, ungelded, who just turned a year old. Starting from weaning I believe (at 5 months) he started flipping his head. It was a very un-traumatic weaning as far as I could tell. I put him in the corral (all my corrals are covered and have long paddocks they freely come and go into) next to his mom and in with a 5 year old pregnant mare who he'd grown up next to and who liked him. He seemed to settle right in and showed no concern about being separated from his mom. He was very respectful to his new "auntie" and they'd stand and groom each other.
However, I suspect he got ulcers from the weaning anyway, maybe simply from the change in diet (?) Anyway, he became uncharacteristically nervous (about being handled for example) and started flipping his head when he was just loose in the corral/paddock. It always increased with exercise, especially if I turned him and his "surrogate mom" out in the arena. It got to the point where he was doing it every few seconds. He'd flip it straight up, with his nose pointed at the sky, twist it, and let it fall.
I tried treating him with ranitidine and about a week later noticed he was almost not doing it anymore, just occasionally. He also seemed calmer and more his "old self." He still did flip his head some, though, and I think I had him on ranitidine for about 3 weeks and noticed he started doing it more again.
Then I switched him to a Chinese herb blend called Stomach Happy. At first it really seemed to help but after 2 mos. on it he was flipping his head more again. I stopped that and started him on slippery elm, aloe vera and papaya and have had him on that pretty much ever since. A month ago I added marshmallow and licorice.
He flips his head less now, but still does it. He seems to do it more when he's nervous and/or exercising. I figured it was ulcer-related (maybe an endorphin release caused by the adjustment of his poll?) but now after all this treatment I'm starting to wonder. I've had the chiro out three times and she's said he was very out in his poll/atlas, but she didn't know if it was the head flipping that was causing him to be out or vice versa. None of the chiro treatments seemed to make much difference.
As far as his nervousness, I finally have resorted to a vitamin B/tryptophan supplement (Vita Calm) and just recently added Wendell's Herbs calmer. Without it he is very nervous and insecure, to the point that when I am working with him in the horse yard (facing the corrals and about 30 feet away from the other horses, in view of them, he is snorty and jumpy and hard to handle. Now on the calmers he is back to his old self, friendly and calm, at least when he feels there are other horses nearby (sometimes I will take one out and tie them to the tie rail so they are very close to him while I work with him.) As a foal he never struck me as a horse who would be nervous.
The head flipping really worries me. I know it must be a sign of something wrong but I don't know what.
About two and a half months ago I had to put him in a corral/paddock adjacent to his surrogate mom's because she was close to foaling. He is still adjacent to her and her filly, but not in with them of course. I did turn them out together the other day and he quickly learned to keep his distance from "mom" but sniffed noses and was very gentle with the 2 month old filly, which I think is surprising for a yearling stud colt. He really is a gentle soul and I don't think his nervousness is normal for him. He loves people, and is very much a clown and a show-off.
His diet consists of free choice bermuda, 1/2 flake of alfalfa/orchard grass once a day, a half dose of Platinum performance, 3/4 tsp twice a day of APA Blend, 3 cups dried shredded beat pulp, a handful of Safe Choice pellets, and divided between a.m. and p.m.: a cup of papaya puree, 7 tbsp. slippery elm/marshmallow blend, and 1-2 tsp. of licorice. I've also added about 3 tbsp canola oil, vitamin B/tryptophan (usually at the maintenance dose but for "events" I double it to the max dose) and about 3/4 of an adult dose of the Wendels Calmer herbs.
I hate to keep him on calming stuff all the time, but it really seems to "bring out his old self". I trailered him to another ranch (along with his dad for company) where my friend gave him a ponying lesson off her gelding and he was very good and took it well without acting anxious.
If anyone has any ideas, especially about the head flipping, (and nervousness) I'd really appreciate any advice. I could get his tummy scoped, but it just seems so invasive and I'd really hate to have to fast him.
Rebeca P.S. he is an Andalusian and both his parents (who I own) are extremely calm, sensible horses. His full sister (surrogate mom) is placid and almost bombproof and none of his other full brothers and sisters have been nervous horses.