False. Who doesn’t love those long,
bristly whiskers pointing out at odd
angles from a horse’s chin, those gentle tickles when your horse snuffles
in your ear or takes a handful of oats
from your palm?
Well, maybe judges in the show
ring. Horse whiskers, technically
called vibrissae, are similar in
structure as a cat’s whiskers: long,
extra-stout hollow hairs that provide
tactile information to the animal
about location. When objects brush
up against long whiskers, these
hairs send messages to the horse’s
brain telling him there’s something
there—a helpful tool for grazing animals with eyes at the top of a very
long head and blind spots immediately in front of and immediately
below their face.
Clipping whiskers doesn’t hurt
the horse (although plucking likely
does). What shaving whiskers does
instead is eliminate your horse’s
ability to feel around his immediate
environment with his remarkably
prehensile lower lip.
Whether removing this sort of
sensory perception is cruel or not is
perhaps somewhat subject to interpretation, but take heart. Modern
horse management likely negates the
most common use of these whiskers,
which is detecting food and avoiding
not-food on the range.
Shaving a whiskery muzzle once in
a while will not rob your horse of eating opportunities or place him in danger of eating something he wouldn’t
otherwise eat. And the occasional
whisker removal will not leave your
horse blind to his environment at
night; a horse’s vision is superior to
our own in low light.
ANNA O’BRIEN, DVM, is a large-animal
ambulatory veterinarian in central Maryland.
Her practice tackles anything equine in nature,
from Miniature Horses to zebras at the local
zoo, with a few cows, goats, sheep, pigs, lla-
mas, and alpacas thrown in for good measure. FOR ORAL USE IN HORSES 4 WEEKS OF AGE AND OLDER. EQUIMAX® (ivermectin/praziquantel) Paste should not be used in other animal species as severe adverse reactions, including fatalities
in dogs, may result. Do not use in horses intended for human consumption. S welling and itching
reactions after treatment with ivermectin paste have occurred in horses carrying heavy infections
of neck threadworm (Onchocerca sp. microfilariae), most likely due to microfilariae dying in large
numbers. Not for use in humans. Ivermectin and ivermectin residues may adversely affect
aquatic organisms, therefore dispose of product appropriately to avoid environmental contamination. Trademarks belong to their respective owners.
Consult your Veterinarian to
determine the best deworming
program for your horse.
For more information, visit
our websites bimedaequine.com
Comprehensive, Safe, & Effective
PARASITE CONTROL SOLUTION
For every horse, for every season.