IT's a subject that has been the subject of heated debate as a number of federations have already banned removing horses’ whiskers. H&H gathers the thoughts of those in showing, welfare — and those who have banned the practice.
TRIMMING horses’ whiskers has come under the spotlight again, as plans have been made to discuss the practice in the showing world .
While some countries including France, Germany, and Switzerland have banned removing whiskers, this is still allowed in the UK.
West Wales-based farrier Katie Johnson told H&H that when showing a mare and foal last year, she was the only competitor in a class of 10 who had not removed her pony and foal’s whiskers.
“In the showing world it’s almost the norm, and there’s a lack of education on why horses have whiskers,” she said.
“If other countries are banning it and saying it’s not acceptable on welfare grounds, I don’t see why Britain can’t. We seem very behind the times and it’s for vanity. There is no benefit – you don’t need to do it.”
David Ingle, chairman of the Showing Council which represents 17 showing bodies, told H&H trimming whiskers has been added to the council’s agenda to discuss at the next meeting.
“Several of the societies have asked ‘Can we talk about this?’ because it’s something we’re concerned about,” he said. “We have a global welfare policy in line with the British Equestrian Federation for showing, so it would be something we discuss under that.
“We will have an open discussion and if we thought it was relevant, we would ask the delegates to take it back to their own bodies and ask them to talk about it.”
Mr Ingle said it is good the topic has been raised.
“I am pleased to see these things put on the agenda; people do care, and want them discussed. It’s important people know we’re talking about it – and that’s where it starts. It could be a very contentious discussion or a very easy one – we don’t know yet.
“It might be that one or two of the societies don’t want a ban but if you have a majority, you would let the ones who want to keep trimming whiskers do it, and you would publicise the ones who have banned it – if it was to be banned.”
World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers told H&H the charity does not support trimming whiskers – but added education would be more beneficial, as a ban would be difficult to police outside the show ring.
“We believe increasing people’s understanding of why trimming is not good would mean more people would choose to not trim,” he said.
A spokesman for the German equestrian federation told H&H the organisation sees “no sense” in cutting a horse’s whiskers and would like to see other countries implement a ban.
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