Home » Study confirms that horses find whipping as painful as humans do

Study confirms that horses find whipping as painful as humans do

by Maria Filimonenko
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These findings must correct prior beliefs regarding the ‘thick-skinned’ horse’s capability to sense pain in comparison to humans.

A recent research, financed by RSPCA Australia and published in the journal Animals, examined the “ability of horse skin to perceive pain when compared to human skin.” The study’s findings show that when being whipped, people and horses experience pain in essentially the same ways.

According to co-author Professor Paul McGreevy, a professor at the University of Sydney, “what’s important is what lies between dermis and epidermis, and that’s where the nerve endings are found. We were interested in the thickness of the base layer of the skin, which is called the dermis, and also the outer layer, called the epidermis.” He added, that it is the first research of its kind ever conducted.

Research Process & Findings

Skin from 10 humans and 20 thoroughbred or thoroughbred-type horses was used to analyse the differences in skin structure and nerve supply. The study focused on the region of skin on a horse’s rump that is frequently whipped during a race. 

There was “no substantial difference between humans and horses in either the concentration of nerve endings or in the thickness of this layer,” according to research from Australia’s Taronga Conservation Society led by veterinary pathologist Dr. Lydia Tong.

They discovered that although horses have generally thicker skin, this does not shield them from pain.

Even though the horse’s dermis, which is located underneath the epidermis, is substantially thicker compared to humans, the thickness of the horse’s dermis cannot play a big role in skin sensitivity despite the fact that it may tolerate forceful blows better than human dermis, the survey revealed.

According to the findings, this suggests that when it comes to pain perception, horse skin is barely distinguishable from human skin. Which leads to the conclusion that a thicker area of the horses’ skin does not safeguard from the pain caused by a whip hit. The essential anatomical elements that allow humans and horses to feel pain in the skin are the same.

Researchers believe that these data must update previous hypotheses concerning the ‘thick-skinned’ horse’s ability to feel pain in comparison to humans.

Source: Independent


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