Spotlight on Equine Fundraising with the Langford Trust

Mel Boughton is the owner of Jack, a 10-year-old gelding, who sadly suffers with trigeminal mediated headshaking. Mel’s struggles over the last 5 years to help Jack overcome this debilitating condition, have galvanised her into fundraising for the Langford Trust and horses in need.

Trigeminal mediated headshaking is a neuropathic facial pain syndrome in horses, of unknown cause. Affected horses throw their heads up and down vertically, strike at their noses with their front legs and snort and rub their noses. They can be dangerous to ride and handle. Horses are likely to experience a range of types of pain, from pins and needles to burning and electric-shock like bursts. Neuropathic pain does not respond to normal painkillers and other treatment has been difficult, mostly because we do not know the cause. Many horses are euthanased for the condition as their lives become unbearable, others may be manageable if retired but the owners lose their riding horse. Work from the University of Bristol showed the condition affects 1-4% of the UK equine population, so this is a significant welfare problem.

A cruel condition

Jack’s condition initially started with him violently flicking his head and dragging it on the concrete. The shaking got progressively worse to the point of being dangerous; with him rearing up during a ride and falling with Mel on the road. Desperate to help Jack, Mel contacted Veronica Roberts, European Specialist in Equine Internal Medicine, at Bristol Vet School for advice and diagnosis.

Mel explained, ‘I made what I thought was a long journey to Langford but it turns out the long journey is this condition. Headshaking is so frustrating and soul destroying. In July 2017 it got so bad, I almost made the decision to let Jack go. I’m pleased to say I didn’t give in, and although he has bad days, they appear far fewer now. Last year I even managed to ride him all summer.’ 

Research for a pain free life

Mel is determined to help all horses suffering with this condition and approached the Langford Trust to explore how best to do this. As a result, the Langford Trust has established a fund specifically for research into trigeminal mediated headshaking and Mel is dedicating all her fundraising efforts to it. A better scientific understanding of this condition and identification of potential therapies is essential if we want to make a real difference to horses.

The Langford Trust has an excellent history of funding research into headshaking by the University of Bristol’s Veronica Roberts. The Trust has previously funded work into improving diagnosis and our funding for a pilot study into treatment has led to the development of a non-invasive procedure resulting in remission of pain to over 50% of treated horses. Veronica has the most first author peer-reviewed papers on the subject than any other vet and speaks regularly at national and international conferences and webinars.The Langford Trust hopes to announce imminently details of a new research project led by Veronica Roberts which seeks to improve the way vets judge outcomes from treatment.

Donate and make a difference

Mel is already busy raising funds to help further Veronica’s research and is designing an array of handcrafted gifts and keepsakes which she sells via Nodding Neddies on Facebook.

If you wish to make a donation to the Langford Trust headshaking fund please donate here or contact the office on 07986 537302.

Thank you for supporting this important veterinary research and for making a difference to animal health and welfare.

The Langford Trust 2021 Newsletter

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