EQUINE NEWS

NEW TOOLS TO KNOW THE SENSITIVITY OF HORSE FACE

Researchers measured horses’ facial sensitivity to touch, pressure, and heat on 34 healthy Warmblood mares, geldings and stallions ranging in age of 1-23 years old. The results could help diagnose cases of equine idiopathic headshaking and improve welfare. They used handheld devices including a pressure reader designed for horse faces, to check each horse’s sensitivity and facial nerve functions. Knowing the normal sensitivity values of the face would provide a tool for veterinarians to diagnose alterations in sensitivity,” said Kata O. Veres-Nyéki, DrMedVet, of The Royal Veterinary College UK. Acute injuries of the face are probably obvious, but chronic pain conditions might be overlooked otherwise,” Vet said. “Using the quantitative sensory testing methods, we can not only detect alterations but also follow up the efficacy of analgesic (pain relief) treatments in a noninvasive (harmless) way.” the tools used were frey filament to test tactile threshold, Hand-handled thermode to test heat and hand-handled algometer with silicon tip for testing pressure In all three tests, the horses were free to move their heads, and the test stopped when the horse reacted in any way to the contact (such as by moving the head away, twitching the skin, or blinking reactively), Veres-Nyéki said. These field tests and comparative measurements with the healthy horse threshold data provides the researchers’ open-access study, veterinarians can detect possible facial nerve sensory abnormalities, she said. The study has practical applications in equitation, as well, Veres-Nyéki added. For example, trainers might consider using gentler equipment on younger horses due to their lower sensitivity thresholds.