IT is hoped that momentum is being gained towards a point where untrimmed whiskers are the norm for all competing horses, as a major show and a breed society have introduced bans.
The Great Yorkshire Show (GYS), which is known for making welfare-led decisions such as its limits on rider weight, has ruled that animals are not to have had their sensory hairs trimmed to compete at the 2022 show, in all disciplines. The Welsh Pony and Cob Society (WPCS) has also introduced a rule, to apply from January, banning the trimming of sensory hairs on welfare grounds.
GYS chief executive Nigel Pulling said: “This has been on the agenda for several years now. We are known for taking the lead on welfare and as such have decided to be proactive on this topic; we will be introducing this ruling for the 2022 Great Yorkshire Show.”
H&H has reported on the fact whisker-trimming has been banned by the FEI since July and that British Dressage and British Eventing have followed suit. National bans on trimming are in place in some European nations.
GYS livestock and entries co-ordinator Amanda Stoddart-West told H&H the move came from the show’s biosecurity an
d animal welfare committee.
“When you study the research that’s been carried out on this topic, you can’t just ignore it,” she said. “It’s a practice that has been a tradition in the showing world without any other purpose than aesthetics; we all have greater access to far more information these days and it’s abundantly clear that whiskers, or sensory hairs, are an extremely important sensory tool for the horse.”
Mrs Stoddart-West added that the GYS is proud to add its name to those that have already banned the practice.
“Let’s hope other shows, equestrian bodies and breed societies all follow suit and help to end this practice,” she said. “Switzerland, Germany and France have all implemented an outright ban on whisker-clipping; hopefully, the UK will follow suit.”
GYS equine vet Julian Rishworth added: “The severity of the adverse welfare effects of equine whisker-trimming are now well documented and proven. It’s fantastic that the Great Yorkshire Show, yet again, leads from the front on horse welfare.”
World Horse Welfare deputy chief executive Tony Tyler told H&H it is encouraging to see bans being implemented more widely.
“We hope this will signal that momentum is being gained, and it will continue until untrimmed whiskers become the accepted normal for all horses, whether competing or not,” he said.
The WPCS was unavailable for comment.
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Credit: Lucy Merrell
The ban came into force at FEI events on 1 July
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