Don't Cut Those Whiskers

Why horses need their whiskers attached to their beautiful faces
The trimming of a horse’s whiskers is illegal in Germany whereas many English associations promote this.
Strange, huh?
You may be shocked to know that a horse’s whiskers (vibrissae) are actually an incredibly important sense to them. The whiskers around the eyes and muzzle are extremely sensitive and have a rich nerve supply.Each whisker in mice has a region of the sensory cortex (in the brain) dedicated to it. As horses and micehave similar physiology we can deduce that horses may do too. ‘This dedication of a portion of the cortex to each vibrissa indicates that they must be extremely important sensory instruments which should not be removed for cosmetic purposes’ (McGreevy, 2004:51).
Horses need their whiskers to:
o Judge texture and distance to things. Due to the position of their eyes,horses cannot see under their mouth and so the whiskers allow them to explore and identify what is under their nose.
o Foals use their whiskers to help them locate the teats to suckle.
o The whiskers and lips work together to gather information about what to eat and what not to. Therefore, horses without whiskers may be more likely to eat a poisonous plant by mistake.
o The whiskers are used to detect how far they are from a surface and so aid comfort behaviours such as head-rubbing. Without this sensory tool they will be more likely to bump into objects and injure their faces and eyes by accident.

This is especially problematic for stabled horses, who are surrounded by walls, hooks etc.
o The whiskers may even detect vibrational energy. This explains why horses with whiskers will put them near electric fences to test if it is on and avoid an unnecessary shock.
o Horses use their whiskers to communicate with a friend while mutual grooming. Mutual grooming is vital to horses both as part of their social life and as a form of silent communication. Whiskers enhance their sense of touch and help the horse to feel the other horse’s muscles contract and relax. This allows a mutual grooming horse to assess the mood of the other. If horses have their whiskers cut off or live alone they cannot use this subtle way of communication and instead have to use big over-blown
signals. A human example would be if your only communication with other humans was to shout at them from a distance, which would be very frustrating.
If horses didn't need whiskers, they wouldn't grow them. We shouldn't take one of their senses without permission, just for looks.

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