How Sensitive Is Your Horse’s Face? New Tools Can Tell You

Researchers measured horses’ facial sensitivity to touch, pressure, and heat. The results could help diagnose cases of equine idiopathic headshaking and improve welfare.

No account yet? Register


How Sensitive is Your Horse’s Face? New Tools Can Tell You
Researchers tested facial sensitivity in 34 healthy Warmblood mares, geldings, and stallions ranging in age from 1 to 23 years old. | Photo: iStock
He shakes off tiny flies and gnats that land on his nostrils, so you know your horse has a sensitive face. But how sensitive, exactly?

Researchers measured horses’ facial sensitivity to touch, pressure, and heat to find out what they’re feeling. 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, Dipl. ECVAA, PhD, MRCVS, of The Royal Veterinary College, in Hatfield, the U.K., formerly of the Vetsuisse Faculty at the University of Bern, in Switzerland.

“Acute injuries of the face are probably obvious, but chronic pain conditions might be overlooked otherwise,” Veres-Nyéki 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

Create a free account with to view this content. is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

What lameness issues has your horse experienced? Select all that apply.
251 votes · 503 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with!