You probably watched at least part of the Super Bowl a few Sundays ago. Most people did. And if you enjoy watching football as much as I do, you've probably seen more than one player go down with some kind of head injury. It just comes with the territory.
Problem is, it comes with your horse's territory, too. As gregarious as horses can be, they are definitely susceptible to head injuries. But can they really be life-threatening?
It's scary enough to see a horse with a head injury. It's even worse to have watched it happen. I've seen them back so high they fall backwards. That's scary.
Sometimes a horse may haul off and kick his paddock mates in the face in an effort to achieve the rank of Alpha Horse. Then there's the not-so-smart horse who collides with an immovable object like a tree – sometimes at a high rate of speed and for no apparent reason. Go figure.
Horse head injuries are nothing to take lightly. Even though it's one of the least likely injuries your horse will ever have, that does not make it any less of a concern for you as a horse owner. And the biggest concern you have is for your horse's brain.
Brain protection is one area where your horse has a distinct advantage over us humans. Even though our human skulls only afford 1/4 inch of protection for our brains, your horse's brain has significantly more protection.
This is mainly because his brain tucked further back in his head than ours is. Plus he has a network of 26 bones to protect his brain. You and I only have 1. So even though a head head injury can look pretty gruesome, it's probably not as bad as you might think.
Now, do not get me wrong. You need to take all horse head injuries seriously. The chances that your horse damaged his brain are slim, but only your equine vet can be sure.
There are some field-expedient tests you can perform on the spot that will give you a rough indication of how serious a head injury is. But do not worry. I'll cover those in a future article in this series. When I do, you'll be able to tell whether your horse might have a real brain injury, or just "got his bell rung."
But what I want you to go home with today is this: Your horse's skull provides a lot of valuable protection to his brain. And it's a darn good thing.
A professional football player with an injury like this would most likely be out for the season. Is your horse that much tougher than a pro athlete? Maybe. But the biggest advantage your horse has is the general construction of his head. It gives him an advantage of us in the event of a head trauma.
And we'll talk about that in Part 2 of my series on horse head injuries. So keep your feed reader pointed right here at Horse IQ.
Yours for Better Horse Care,
PS, If you were like me, you were rooting for the Colts this past Sunday, if for no other reason than they had horseshoes on their helmets (… plus, I like Peyton Manning, too!).