Horses More Sensitive To Pain Than Previously Thought - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Horses More Sensitive To Pain Than Previously Thought

A close-up of the top layer of the skin, where the sensitive, pain-sensing nerve fibers end.

Horses may be more sensitive to pain than originally thought, according to Dr. Lydia Tong, an Australian forensic veterinary pathologist.

While it's been said that horses are “thick-skinned,” Dr. Tong's research found that a horse's skin is thicker than human skin by only 1 millimeter. The primary difference, she found, was in the deep collagen tissue, not in the superficial pain-sensing fibers.

The epidermis (outermost layer) of horse skin was actually thinner than human epidermis, meaning that horses have fewer skin cells between the environment and sensitive nerve endings.

Tong's study indicates that horses don't have the “padding” from pain that is assumed with other large animals; in fact, the study indicates that a horse's skin may feel even more sensation that human skin.

Tong made these determinations by comparing flank skin from a horse and the equivalent skin on a human, examining skin structure and location and amount of nerve tissue. She then stained the nerve tissue, which showed that horses have more nerve endings than humans.

Tong plans to expand her research into a full-sized project, specifically with regards to the use of whips to make horses run faster.

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