Trimming whiskers

So it’s now been well over 10 years since I left the land of hunters, moved to Europe and started jumping here. I’ve recently seen a video on YouTube of some people competing at low level schooling shows and their trainers require them to shave their horses whiskers off. I know hunters are about tradition etc but is this still a big thing? Is it really necessary in these low level shows? Will Dobbin place over Silver because Silver has a hairy nose?

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This tradition needs to die a fast death!!!


Our two trainers have come out strongly against it but our (older, more traditional) barn owner was appalled when she saw a crew of whiskery ponies loading for a show.

Do you think this is a tradition that is in the process of dying out as the word spreads about how cruel it is to horses?

Not sure about schooling shows, but I always clip my horses’ whiskers. I show fairly regularly at rated shows. Since I do the jumpers it’s certainly not going to affect my placings, but I think it creates a neater, more tidy appearance.


I trim the nose (never the eyelashes). From Horse & Hound:

“While there’s anecdotal evidence suggesting horses with trimmed vibrissae are more prone to facial injuries, there is no direct scientific proof of how, and to what degree, vibrissae inform horses about their environment.”

if my horse lived out 24/7 I might not, but given 3 meals a day on a platter, show horses do just fine without those whiskers.


Apparently now banned in Germany?

Evidently its Germany, Switzerland and now France that ban the practice.


Yup and nobody here in Luxemburg does it. I can’t even see them on my show photos.


I’m one of those bad whisker trimmers. I by no means advise anyone to do it. The more natural approach is pretty inarguably better. (I won’t shave inside ears or the eye whiskers; I’m not a total savage.) And when people like me die off, the norm will tick over one notch forward toward less unnecessary aesthetic sh8t. For the better.

I know the plural of anecdote is not evidence. But other than the pointless whisker trauma AND maintaining her mane by pulling, my girl has it alright and tells me so. I’d hazard a guess that shes happier with me than she’d be with full whiskers. Whisker trimming or shaving is actually one of her preferred grooming tasks (grooming is not her thing). She wuzzles her muzzle into any sort of de-whiskering. She’s overly sensitive; I think she might actually enjoy being rid of the spiky face feelers. She’s not in love with touch (other than about 3-4 “spots” I know about, and for how many seconds each spot might remain enjoyable before I should STAHP), but all of her favourites are up around her face, and she leeeeans into a good close moustache shave.

Admission: I don’t even compete. I just prefer the aesthetic. Winnie and I have just been adventuring to see what we’d like. I think she might want to be an eventer when she grows up. Me too! But we’re adventuring with a pulled mane and an oft-shaved muzzle. I also lightly trim anything clydesdale-like about her TB fetlocks (dog trimmers with a longish guard work great) and the sort of individual long “goat hairs” on the underside of her head.

I get that I’m doing an older, barbaric thing. But on the scale of current human barbarism, I’m pretty comfortable with my choices. And my girl, who went from standoffish to spoiled, from never walking toward a person in the field and once in a while walking away, to perking up at my voice and now coming to the gate, who self loads eagerly because she loves adventure and new sh8t is our jam…this girl is a tiny bit abused by me. For aesthetics.


Yep, it’s banned here (Germany). Honestly, if you’re riding a kick ass round, nobody is going to notice or care about your horse’s whiskers. IMO.

If you’re used to clipping them, it may just take you a bit to get used to the unclipped look. Do I think it’s the worst thing to do to your horse? Definitely not. But I don’t see it as necessary.


Trimming vibrissae is banned in Austria too.


I stopped trimming the whiskers a few years ago. I don’t show rated. I trim the ears but don’t scoop out the insides. I trim them enough to be neat but that they still have some protection from bugs and cold.


I have watched horses check the hot wire with their whiskers. they know what whiskers are for. Whiskers are Equine Distant Early Warning.

Leave them alone.

Re: ears-I was taught to fold ears together and then trim anything sticking out. Tidy but not absolutely not shaved.


I think trimming is awful. It deprives the horse of natural protection and senses. I show in the Hunters…A rated. Lots of pressure to trim for a show…as a compromise, I trim on the outside of the ears, the bridle path, and muzzle whiskers. I only trim the muzzle whiskers right before a show, and never more than once a month. I’m always happy when they grow back.

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I am a R USEF hunter judge that won’t dock marks if Silver has a hairy nose, but that is just my personal opinion and I am just one judge. I also grew up in a world where every single hair and whisker got shaved off of my hunters. I never had a horse get a facial injury due to no whiskers. That being said, we have learned so much about horses over the last 30 years. More and more countries are banning the practice each year. As a result, as much as it pains me to do so, I no longer shave whiskers. When prepping for horse shows, I will do what merrygoround suggested - fold the ear and just trim the outside hairs as this allows my horses & ponies to have protection from the bugs and cold temperatures.


I don’t show rated, and at them moment don’t really show in the hunter ring… I grew up being told to shave the whiskers and long eye ones. Now i just try to tidy up the face whiskers. I can’t bring myself for them be super long, plus when I do use a flash noseband, I feel it has to be more comfortable to have the whiskers not get all tangled in then noseband. I do trim back the eye whiskers when they get super long, but i always leave them something.

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My little herd has almost no muzzle whiskers because they eat out of slow feed hay nets. They all seem to still know if the fence is on or not, with out having to test it with their whiskers.

I am with Daventry on the fact that my horse who was always clean shaved did not have any facial injuries. The mare that bashed her face hard enough against something to do some impact damage was not shaved (and was not eating out of a net at that time), so her whiskers did not save her from hurting herself.

I am fine if people shave or do not shave. I certainly do not think shaving is abuse.


I do show rated and my horse has whiskers. We do jumpers so not quite as purse wringing, heart clutching effect, but I really have seen an improvement in the boys overall lack of head/face bumps, cuts etc. And he certainly seems happy not have his whiskers shaved. We do the fold the ears in and take off the excess. Nothing inside.



How do you judge his happiness at not having his whiskers shaved?


He looked at me and sighed a massive sigh of relief after I shut off the clippers having only done his ears. Then he pawed 6 times (“T-H-A-N-K-S”) and nuzzled me and licked my neck like a dog.