Cos­metic Clip­ping of Fa­cial and Fet­lock Hairs

Dressage Today - - Qa & -

The muz­zle whiskers and eye­lashes are sen­sory or­gans. They let the horse know if some­thing is close to the area around his eye or muz­zle, which he can­not see. Ear hairs pro­tect from bugs in the sum­mer months. The feath­ers on the fet­locks sim­i­larly pro­tect from bugs, though if in un­san­i­tary con­di­tions (deep mud, ma­nure), they can make skin in­fec­tions (i.e., scratches) more likely. It is cus­tom­ary to clip these whiskers/hairs for show pur­poses. How­ever, in­creas­ing aware­ness of the im­por­tance of these hairs to a horse’s well-be­ing has led to some coun­tries ban­ning the “ex­tir­pa­tion of fa­cial hairs,” re­gard­less of the eques­trian dis­ci­pline. There are no wel­fare ben­e­fits to re­mov­ing these fa­cial hairs. Clip­ping the fet­lock feath­ers has no wel­fare detri­ment I am aware of and may be in­di­cated if the horses are in pad­docks with deep mud/or­ganic ma­te­rial (hay/fe­ces) ac­cu­mu­la­tion. —Sarah Ral­ston

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