Showmanship and whiskers

I haven’t shown in showmanship since the 90’s. I really don’t want to clip my horse’s whiskers or inside the ears as he lives out 24/7 in the summer. What are your thoughts?

You are going to get a bunch of people who say that clipping is evil and animal abuse. You are going to get another bunch of people who say that their horse has never had an issue with their face clipped.

You do you.

Might be best to ask someone who shows at the same shows you want to show at and ask them what is typical at those shows and if not clipping is OK there.


Please check with your Association as many groups have made it against the rules to clip the muzzle, etc.


Most people at the shows I go to clip. I show in showmanship and clip the muzzle whiskers, leave the eyes alone, and just tidy up the ears.


I agree you need to check if the association/show rules specify if horses must be clipped/shaved or if it isn’t even allowed. When I judge, at open shows with loose rules, I don’t tend to alter placing based on clipping, and instead focus on over all grooming and presentation, but when I judge bigger shows with rules that specifically list in the rule book that horses must be clipped, then I have to mark a horse down who isn’t presented as per the rule book.


Thanks for the advice…it took awhile to find it in the rule book, but it looks as though all long hair on face, bridle path and legs need to be clipped per APHA rules. Insides of ears are optional. Here is he excerpt:

The bridle path, eyebrows and long hairs on
the head and legs should be clipped, except where government regulations
prohibit. The inside of the ears may be clipped

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To be fair it only says “should” not must. I would clip what you are comfortable with for your region.

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Thanks for that clarification.

We clip no matter what. But, do what works best for you depending on which level you are showing at. If you’re going to the world show or wanting to be competitive with the “big boys” you’d be expected to clip.

I show APHA/AQHA/NSBA in a very competitive region.

Thanks. I would like to show Ranch Riding too, so I will have to find a happy medium.

Nope. I don’t clip anything but fetlocks, bridle path and actually the last couple inches of the mane to keep it from getting caught under saddle blankets.

Whiskers are SENSORY hairs. They are there for a reason. Yes, the horse will adapt, but why are we removing purely for a show board’s definition of vanity?

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Showmanship was my jam when I was younger and clipping everything was done. I occasionally consider taking my fjord to the open shows for showmanship, and if I did I wouldn’t clip him. He’s on about 12 hours of turnout and I wouldn’t want to take away any of his defenses for flies or his whiskers. And I love his drafty fetlocks. But I also wouldn’t be bothered if we got docked in the show ring for it either.

I have noticed at least locally, that a lot of the stock horse barns that do all the showing/clipping don’t offer much, if at all turnout so I guess those horses might not be quite as susceptible to flies/sun etc?

I don’t even show anymore , my horses live out and I still clip them. I just prefer to have a clean look to the head and in my day it was always done.

While showmanship is basically on the handler, the way your horse is presented ( turned out) is a reflection. I am out of the loop for a long, long time but a hairy, unclipped face really detracts from the overall look.

I do not clip out the ears fully , just the hair that is sticking out but my horses are never bothered by bugs.