This is an interim account as this horse has a way to go yet but it is a good example of what to do/expect when horses become this dangerous to handle. 
You need to get them into a SAFE yard with hay/water and feed and then WAIT until they have calmed down enough that they are safe to handle again. Don’t even try in the meantime just leave them alone for how ever many days it takes.

This ‘behaviour’ was entirely caused by serious mineral imbalances which can be rectified. Absolutely don’t put them down as was suggested in this case!



"I have had problems with my Riding Pony x TB gelding for over 2 years. He was purchased from the stud and sent away to be started under saddle in quick succession. Once home he went downhill within only a few weeks, appearing depressed and losing a lot of weight very quickly. I treated him for ulcers and turned him out for winter. Come spring I tried to bring him back into work but found him bombastic, highly reactive and unpredictable.

Meteor seen here in the background before any changes - note the impulsive explosive behaviour that makes him far too dangerous to ride at this stage.

In early 2015 I decided to sell him. I sent him to a very experienced friend to work and sell for me but within a few weeks he was back home. She told me that he would stop dead for no reason when she was riding him and flat out refuse to move regardless of what they tried. I brought him home and started riding him lightly and not long after he started to ‘tie up’. 

Very quickly it became so bad that I was unable to ride or lunge him (off a rope halter). He would tie up within a few minutes walking on the lunge. I tried a range of things to address the tying up but all were unsuccessful. Reluctantly I resigned myself to the fact that my beautiful horse would be a paddock ornament until I could stop the tying up.

Looking back, the head tossing must have started sometime late in 2014. It became increasingly worse throughout 2015 to the point that every time I saw him he was twirling his head around.

He also became increasingly difficult to handle. He was sour and prone to volatile explosions. Basic handling such as leading him, changing or straightening rugs became nothing short of precarious and as for floating … at times that was flat out dangerous. The last time I tried to float him he tied up. While another time he double barrelled me. He would often run / bash into the railed fencing and rearing became commonplace, he would often rear just prior to exploding or tying up.

A look at the mix of clover and the fresh green shoots in this grazing gives a clue as to his behavioural problems.

In early May a friend tagged me in a facebook post by Calm Healthy Horses about the impact of Autumn grasses. It sounded so much like my horse that I contacted Jenny. I sent her a copy of one of his blood test results and she noted that his potassium levels were extremely high.

Following my conversation with Jenny I removed him from all grass and all Lucerne and he commenced on SOS and GrazeEzy about three weeks later.

No easy fix...

Within a fortnight I saw a huge difference in his behaviour and a marked reduction in his head tossing. After a month the head tossing had all but stopped and he was no longer sour and threatening. I started to allow myself to think about a future for him again.

However, it was short lived when in mid-June a heap of green, predominately weeds, began to shoot up in his paddock. Within a week he had reverted right back. With the help of a friend I shifted him into the round yard. He completely ‘lost it’ and reared vertically above my head several times and one point he struck my arm on the way down. In the end all I could do was let go of the lead and get out the yard until he settled enough for me to take his halter off. He ran around the yard for easily and hour bashing into the sides and throwing his head non-stop. It was like he was he was out of his mind and I doubt he even knew I was there.

He started to settle back down and his head throwing settled within a few days of me removing him from the green pick. But as he calmed down he noticed the weeds around the perimeter of the round yard and he started to lean through the rails and eat them. Once again his erratic behaviour spiked and to make matters worse he completely stopped eating and was hardly drinking any water. He threw his hard feed everywhere and completely refused the hay. My beautiful horse looked a wreck. He’d lost so much weight in such a short time. I spent several hours one afternoon digging all the weeds out by hand so that he couldn’t reach any green pick. It took well over a week before he started eating and drinking again. First the hard feed then gradually the hay.

Only a few days after taking him up to the round yard I rang my vet to come and take a blood test so that I could see what his levels were. The vet asked what he was doing so I sent some short videos through. To my dismay the vet rang me back and basically told me that my horse had Head Shaking Syndrome and probably needed to be pts. Needless to say they refused to attend and take a blood test because they felt it would be too dangerous without a crush.

He was in the round yard for about four weeks all up while we sprayed and tilled his paddock up and dug out the green pick from under the fencing. I bought a round bale of oaten hay so that he had access to ad lib hay and last week I shifted him back to his paddock. He was so much calmer this time. No rearing or running the fence for hours.

He has put a lot of the weight back on and is much calmer and easier to handle but I am waiting for the head tossing to completely go before I try to lunge him. At the moment he tends to only toss his head if he is anxious/excited about something. But it’s not the frenzied constant head tossing anymore. I definitely think I am on the right track with the link to grass and other feeds high in potassium. I’m just taking it day by day but I can at least see a light at the end now.

Meteor much calmer but still a way to go.

I can’t thank Jenny enough for her help, guidance and support. Especially throughout this nightmare ordeal. She has been wonderful and I don’t think either my horse or myself would have survived without her" .

Carmel Pethick, South Australia