"The Equine Pain Face" - interesting article! - The Horse Forum
  • 7 Post By Wallaby
  • 2 Post By Ryle
  • 2 Post By HombresArablegacy
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post #1 of 10 Old 03-13-2016, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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"The Equine Pain Face" - interesting article!

Someone shared this article with me and I thought people here might like to see it too.
I'm a little skeptical about their "study" [this particular article seems to have a lot of words, but not a lot of science...] but the theory holds true in my experience.

The Equine Pain Face | Horses and People

Both of my horses have had chronic pain-type disorders [Lacey had ERU so her eyes were often painful and Fabio has PSSM2 which means his muscles are often painful] and this "pain face" matches with what I've seen in my own horses during episodes of their disorders.

For instance, Fabio during a PSSM episode this last week:

[it turned out that a temperature drop from 65*F to 45*F made him too cold in the mid-lightweight blanket he had previously been happy in. Putting his mid-weight blanket back on fixed him right up in a matter of hours]

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #2 of 10 Old 03-14-2016, 12:37 AM
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The study group size was pretty small, but in general the results are the same I have seen in my 40+ years with horses (part of which were seen in veterinary medical health care).
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Cindy D.
Licensed Veterinary Technician
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post #3 of 10 Old 03-14-2016, 01:17 AM
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Very, very interesting article, I enjoyed reading it. My mare, who has had more than her share of colic episodes, displays exactly the facial signs of pain shown in the video. Her nostrils will get that pinched look, wrinkles around the muzzle, and most telling of all is the look of alarm in her eyes.

Thank you for sharing it.
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post #4 of 10 Old 03-14-2016, 09:55 AM
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Thank you for sharing.
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post #5 of 10 Old 03-15-2016, 12:55 AM
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I'll go read the study soon, thanks for sharing, but yeah, 'science' or not, there are definitely a few indicators of pain in facial expressions, of which SOOO many people just fail to recognise, put down to 'grumpiness' & ignore or even punish! See it often, hear even 'expert' bodyworkers & vets & such say things like 'no, he's just a grumpy guts'... One of my ponies came to me so... broken, his rump was more... tent shaped than round. Sadly I went through a number of vets & others who said he was fine, just his 'conformation' & no, he wasn't suffering, just a grotty personality... Thankfully I kept searching, finally found the right people that helped him, discovered he WAS fixable(twas a surprise, considering how he was, that he didn't just get 'better', but good! & turned him horse shaped again) & what do you know?? He's been a happy faced, pleasant pony for years since!
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post #6 of 10 Old 03-15-2016, 10:08 AM
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Thanks, Wallaby!

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Steve Jernigan KG0MB
Microelectronics Research
University of Colorado
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post #7 of 10 Old 03-15-2016, 11:12 AM
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I call it the headache face. When my horses have that face I know they have pain somewhere.
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post #8 of 10 Old 03-15-2016, 11:21 AM
Green Broke
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Thanks for sharing Wallaby.

Loosie, that is one of the many reasons I love my vet! He knows I know my horses. When T was alive (she developed a very aggressive ERU) and I called Scott and told him that she just "looked off", he knew something was up. Many times I caught an episode before the physical signs displayed because of that "off" look.

When you are with your horse/s 24/7 you develop a keen ability to see when they are not themselves, even if it is extremely subtle.
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Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says, "Oh crap, she's up!".
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post #9 of 10 Old 03-16-2016, 01:03 AM Thread Starter
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You're welcome, guys! I thought it was very interesting too. :)

I feel the same way, Loosie! Fabio actually used to be called "Grumpy Gus" before I got him [before PSSM was even a flicker in anyone's mind]. He was grumpy and 'angry' all the time and no one really knew why, but nobody was able to find anything physically wrong.
From his reactions to perceived punishment [a simple "no" sends him into a tizzy], he has definitely also been punished for his 'attitude.'

Once I discovered the PSSM factor and got him on the proper diet, it's like I have a brand new horse! The only time he's ever grumpy nowadays is when his PSSM is acting up. It's such a change - from near 24/7 grumpiness to maybe 1-2 grumpy days a month!

I always felt like something was 'wrong' with him and that he wasn't naturally so angry and grumpy, but the lack of evidence to support my gut-feeling made me question myself.
I'm very thankful that there is an answer [PSSM] and I'm so glad I stuck with my gut!
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Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #10 of 10 Old 03-16-2016, 10:32 AM
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Hi Wallaby, All!

My big ol' TB horse "Oily" is a grump. I see no evidence of pain, tho, and have attributed it to him being overly Alpha; when I take him away from his herd, he's just as sweet as could be.
Still, the PSSM thing is something to consider. I'll task our vet with investigating it.

ByeBye! Steve

Steve Jernigan KG0MB
Microelectronics Research
University of Colorado
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