The design of bovid horns and skulls for the function of head-to-head fighting has been well studied using mechanical and kinematic analyses, but actual strain measurements from the horncores, cranium and sutures during impact loading have never been made. During in vitro impact loading of one or both horns on the heads of female domestic goats, principal strains were measured from the surfaces of the horncore bases, frontal and parietal bones, and interfrontal and frontoparietal sutures. Impact produced a bending moment at the bases of the horncores, with compressive strains on the posterior surfaces more than doubling the anterior tensile strains. These ratios of compression to tension exceed our predictions (and those in the literature) based on curved beam theory. Principal strains in the cranial bones dropped by as much as 50% crossing the sutures, which acted like springs or hinges to allow cranial bone movement. Sutures also experienced very high strain magnitudes, being more than 10 times greater than those of the surrounding cranial bones. Sutural strains during impact loading of the horns also greatly exceeded the strain levels recorded during mastication in other studies. The decrease in strain between adjacent cranial bones across a suture and the large strains at the sutures indicate that the sutures function as shock absorbers during impact.