Don’t Touch Me I’ve Got a Headache

The 2000 pound Belgian Shire unloaded quickly dragging his owner to the barn with a wary worried look peeking through his long curly forelock.  The large bony draft, Denny, stopped for a moment at the threshold to the paddock then darted out to meet the neighbor horse next door.  Denny fidgeted and stomped while his owner rushed with fumbling fingers to take his halter off and get out of the way as the greeting ritual began.

The following day I began my usual assessment with a WHolistic Joining to invoke Denny’s natural instinct to recognize me as his herd leader.  His docile nature was promising as he connected quickly following me at liberty forward and backward only getting his feet stuck from time to time.  To unstuck his feet I would simply ask him to yield his hind quarters by pointing with one hand as he followed my other outstretched hand as if he was on an imaginary lead rope.

Denny was sweet and willing until it was time for a little loving up.  As I rubbed his head I began to work my hands down his muzzle when he suddenly began to throw his head violently nearly knocking me down.  “What’s the matter big guy” I asked as I tried to control his thrashing head.  I moved my hands quickly back to his brow and cheeks and then tried a little touch-retreat to work on desensitizing his muzzle.  Denny met each touch with a head toss only to find my outstretched hands reaching for his brow.  As I settled him down stroking his neck I caught a glimpse of a furrowed eyelid beneath his long forelock.  I pulled his forelock aside and saw deep worried wrinkles in his both his eyelids.  The thought ran through my mind “headache”.  I knew I needed to check his teeth, but with his trashing behavior it was going to take some time earning his trust.

I decided that grooming Denny would be a good next step since he had large matted hair clumps under his belly of dirt and fecal matter that I ended up removing with scissors.  Denny had been in a stall 24/7 with an hour of freedom to run in an arena every other day that went on for a couple months before arriving at my center for training.  This meant he had to lie down in his own feces and urine to rest, as his underbelly smelled like an outdoor toilet and fecal matter clumped into the matted hair.

After snipping all the matted hair off and receiving a gentle curry and brushing Denny was ready for me to take a peek at his teeth.  I knew once I got a hold of his lips I would have to be quick due to his dismay of the slightest touch of his mouth.  I gently rubbed and loved on him then swiftly touched his lips asking him to let me look.  He thrashed with each try, but I was persistent and caring not to hurt or pinch, just simply peek.  The first glimpse revealed a lower left incisor jutting past the top teeth.  The second glimpse confirmed the distorted tooth as I immediately released his mouth giving him praise and appreciation stroking his brow and neck to relax him.  I assured Denny I would get him some help to relieve his pain sympathizing with his now confirmed headache and its source.

Denny’s owner was deeply concerned at my findings and felt badly that all along she thought his furrowed eyelids were just his “look”.   The dental specialist exam revealed a relieving diagnosis of a baby tooth that had not shed properly and simply needed to be removed.  The shedding of Denny’s incisor confirmed his age (he had no papers), and an additional top right incisor was removed as well.  He still had his Wolf teeth too which indicated he had probably never received any dental care up until now.

The next concern was getting Denny assessed by my equine chiropractic.  Since Denny’s teeth were misaligned due to the jutting lower incisor my concern was the “domino effect” on the muscular-skeletal system that neglected dental care can cause.  Upon assessment my equine chiropractor, who is a licensed veterinarian, found all four places in his head misaligned.  As the vet made the last adjustment of Denny’s head, the setting of the poll, it was an amazing transformation that was unmistakably a relief of pain – Denny’s eyelids relaxed and furrowed wrinkled brow disappeared.  The vet found Denny’s right shoulder so stuck it took five attempts along with a T1 adjustment to get the release.  He had both floating ribs out, along with his sacrum and hips and by the time the vet was done Denny was sighing with great relief trying to follow the vet (Dr Feel Good) as he walked back to his truck.

The following weekend Denny’s owner came for a visit and was completely astonished at his new “look”.  No longer did Denny wear a furrowed brow and she could rub his nose and mouth while he stood soaking up the loving touch and attention.   Denny’s owner learned that day to listen and observe what he was saying with his eyes, body and behavior.  When a horse looks worried with a dull eye and refuses loving touch in an isolated area, consider the source of the “look” and behavior – your horse may be trying to tell you “I’m hurting, please help me”.  Problems are not always training issues………….

Let me know if I can be of support to you in any way.  Wishing you a great day.

Missy Wryn



About Gentle Horse Trainer Missy Wryn

Specializing in problem and dangerous horses Missy Wryn is an internationally recognized Gentle Horse Trainer and member of the Association of Professional Humane Educators. Missy's Training the Whole Horse® methods & techniques and the creation of her widely popular All-In-One Bitless Bridle have been featured in media such as Alaska Airlines Magazine, Equine Monthly, Natural Horse, NW Horse Source, Stable Management, The Horse Show with Rick Lamb, Horse Girl TV and more. For more information visit Missy Wryn’s website at or call toll free (888) 406-7689.
This entry was posted in Bitless Bridle Riding, Horse, Horse Rescue, Horse Sanctuary, Horse Scoop, Horse Training, horse whisperer, Humane Horse Training, Natural Horsemanship and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Don’t Touch Me I’ve Got a Headache

  1. Lovely to see you mentioning the frown on the horses eye, not many people associate a frown with them, when I meet a new horse that has issues, that’s one of the first things I notice and a deep look in the eyes to see what they are expressing.

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