When looking at your horse’s whiskers, you may at times be tempted to give the whiskers a trim. Perhaps you think some of the whiskers are growing in an unattractive manner or maybe you are concerned that the whiskers have grown in such a way that they are problematic for your horse. Generally speaking, however, trimming your horse’s whiskers is something that you should not do.
While trimming a horse’s whiskers does not appear to cause any pain for the horse, it is generally quite clear that it does not make the horse happy to have this done. This is understandable, given the sensitivity of whiskers as well as the multiple ways that horses use them as a tool for day-to-day living.
Even if a horse seems to tolerate the trimming fairly well, removing the whiskers will deprive your horse of an important sensory tool. This may lead to confusion and stress for your horse while also increasing the likelihood of injury. It is for this reason that some countries, such as Germany, have made it illegal to trim the whiskers of horses.
Fortunately, if you have been in the habit of trimming your horse’s whiskers, those whiskers will eventually grow back. So, if you have been in the habit of trimming the whiskers as a part of your grooming habit, now is a good time to stop!
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As a sensory organ for your horse, whiskers help your beloved equine friend with experiencing, exploring and reacting to the world around it. By sending unique signals to the brain, your horse uses its whiskers for all of the following:
- Protecting delicate tissues, such as stimulating your horse to blink in order to protect its eyes or to move its face in order to protect its lips and nose.
- Evaluating objects in order to determine texture, shape, temperature, movement and distance.
- Finding and evaluating food, whether grazing or eating out of a feeder, bucket or hay net.
- Interacting with other horses or with humans or other animals.
In newborn foals, it is also believed that the whiskers help the foal with finding its mother’s teats so it can feed. This is likely the reason why foals are born with longer whiskers than adult horses. Interestingly, the whiskers are also the first hair to form during embryonic development. In addition, while whiskers do shed, they do not follow seasonal patterns like other hairs. Rather, they have a growth cycle during which they emerge, mature and then shed naturally as they are replaced by new whiskers. The long hairs that grow underneath the horse’s jaw are different from true whiskers, however, and are simply long hairs.
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Have you ever paid much attention to your horse’s whiskers? While whiskers may seem to be just more hair on your horse’s body, the truth is that your horse’s whiskers are far different and more specialized than other hairs. In fact, these whiskers are a sensory organ in much the same way as whiskers are on a dog or a cat.
Longer and stiffer than typical hairs, your horse’s whiskers are contained within whisker follicles that are also deeper and larger than other hair follicles. Along with these follicles comes a richer blood supply as well as a connection to more nerves than is found with regular hairs. As a result, your horse’s whiskers are very sensitive to touch. In addition, each whisker sends a unique signal to the brain, which is then processed to stimulate the appropriate response. This response may be either voluntary or involuntary.
Formally known as vibrissae, whiskers are also commonly referred to as “tactile hair” or “tactile vibrissae”. They can be found around the eyes as well as on your horse’s muzzle. In these locations, the whiskers help to protect delicate tissue while also helping to compensate for the blind spots your horse has under its nose. So, as you can see, whiskers are a very important part of your horse’s anatomy!
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Many people do not realize that there are two major families of beef cattle: the Bos taurus and the Bos Indicus. Those that are in the Bos indicus family are different from Bos taurus in that they feature a musculo-fatty hump, short sleek coats and a pendulous dewlap. This family of beef cattle, which originated from southern Asia, is also better suited to hot temperate regions due to their high heat tolerance and resistance to tick fever. The following are some of the breeds found in this family of beef cattle.
Did you know that there are several different types of beef cattle? Among these are several breeds that fall within the Bos taurus family of cattle. Here is a look at some of the main Bos taurus breeds.
Are you considering buying a horse? If so, there are several factors that you should take into consideration in order to determine if you are ready to become a horse owner.
In this third and final installment of toxic plants that may be found in your pasture, we will look at more plants to watch out for and to eliminate from your horse’s diet.
Also known as pigweed or goosefoot, lamb’s quarters is characterized by smooth, light-colored leaves and a woody red stem. As such, it rather resembles a small, green cluster of cauliflower. Horses are unlikely to eat this plant if other feed is available. In addition, large amounts of the plant need to be consumed in order to take effect. Symptoms of lamb’s quarters ingestion include:
In this second of a two-part series, we will explore additional toxic plants that may be found in your pasture.
Buttercup is known for its yellow, cup-shaped flowers paired with sharply lobed leaves and a thin stem. If there is more desirable feed available, horses will typically avoid eating buttercup due to its acrid taste and the direct blistering to the mouth that it causes. Fortunately, this plant is no longer toxic after a hard frost or when dried and mixed into hay. Still, it is best to irradiate this plant from your pasture if possible, as it may cause the following symptoms:
Turning your horse out to pasture is a great way to allow it to get some variety in its diet while also reducing your feed bill. Before you allow your horse to roam freely and eat as it pleases from your pasture, however, it is essential to ensure the pasture is free from plants that could be poisonous to your horse. In this first of a three-part series, we will explore some potentially dangerous plants in your pasture.
Just as with humans, horses can face a number of dental issues that may need to be addressed. Some of these include: