Face, legs and whiskers: To clip or not to clip?
Face, legs and whiskers: To clip or not to clip? That is the question!
Trimming of the vibrissae, the whiskers around the muzzle and the nose, is actually illegal in some countries, such as Germany, as it is understood that they are a sensory organ and not just an untidy disruption on a clean profile. Studies have found that they inform the horse of its distance from a given surface and may even be able to detect sound. Horses that have their whiskers trimmed are more likely to suffer eye, ear and facial injuries or lacerations, due to the lack of pre-warning they receive when their head is too near an object.
If your horse is in an area that has lots of rainfall, is muddy, or has frequent frosts and snow, you may want to leave the leg hair on. The hair around the lower leg, especially down the back of the fetlock and pastern, is designed to help water run off from the leg, while the length of the hair helps to keep the skin dry. If this hair is removed then your horse could end up with greasy heel, which can be difficult to treat, especially if you cannot keep your horse on dry footing while it clears up.
While some may prefer the look of their horses without their fluffy winter facial hair, your first consideration really should be your horse’s comfort and needs. If your horse lives out, you may want to leave their facial hair on for warmth and protection. If, however, you do decide to whip it all off as it were, there are warm, waterproof hoods available to protect your horse from the elements. A correctly-fitted one is extremely important so as not to cause rubbing and sore areas.
So, should you clip your horse at all? Read about the things you should consider before clipping in our blog.