Yay for Horse Whiskers!

By Terry Golson

There’s been a lot of frustration and disgruntlement (to put it mildly) about our horse sports’ governing bodies, but the FEI (Federation Equestre Internationale) has done something right. As of July of 2021 the FEI has ruled that it will be illegal for horses to compete at FEI events with trimmed whiskers. Most of us are never going to show at that level, but what they decide trickles down. Here in the United States there’s a long tradition of shaving off the hair on a horse’s muzzle. People even trim off the long hairs around the eyelids. You won’t see a Quarter Horse at a western show, or a hunter under saddle who has as much as a 5 o’clock shadow. Once I learned about how essential whiskers are to a horse’s physical and mental well-being, seeing shaved muzzles makes me sad. (I’ve blogged about what whiskers do for a horse. Read this.)

Shaving a horse’s whiskers is all for appearances. I suppose that the smooth look gives a horse’s head refinement. I’ve never understood it. I rather like this view.



That photo puts the whiskers front and center. Much of the time, a horse looks like this.


Or given the right lighting, you don’t notice them at all.


Certainly, when you’re moving, those whiskers don’t affect the beauty of your horse!


So, thank you, FEI, for leading the way. I’m not usually gung-ho about regulations, and I worry about animal rights activists dictating their views to the rest of us, but this new guideline is more in-line with communicating a sensible and kind message that many people who love their horses didn’t have on their radar. Just like docking the tail of a dog and clipping their ears has been done purely for cosmetic reasons and now is falling out of favor, so too should be the trimming of whiskers on horses.

I’ll let Tonka have the last word.

PPHTTT to whisker trimming!

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