The great debate of whether it’s safe and necessary to trim your horse’s whiskers… Some riders choose to for competitions and a tidy look, while others proclaim the whiskers act as sensory hairs. Let’s get the facts!
Your Horse’s Whiskers
These long, stiff hairs are found all over your horse’s muzzle. Each one has its own blood supply and nerves. They’re hyper sensitive to vibrations and even changes in the air! Their purpose is to send sensory messages to the somatosensory cortex, which is in your horse’s brain.
The whiskers on their muzzle help them to identify objects, textures, distances, and changes in the wind. They’ll even use them to locate food. Foals will find their mom’s teats with their help. Some suggest they’re like a ‘third eye’ to your horse!
To Trim or Not?
Ultimately, those with shaved whiskers are more likely to experience facial injuries. It’s best to leave the whiskers alone. Some may even say it’s cruel to remove them.
In 2021, the FEI banned horse owners from trimming the whiskers for competition horses. There are, however, many that still support shaving them. Those that compete may find it necessary to trim for a tidy look. They fear they’ll be looked down upon by judges. It varies by discipline and association.
The decision is yours, but remember by shaving them you are reducing your horse’s environmental awareness.