Whisker removal banned in national competitions *H&H Plus*

  • Following the FEI's announcement that triming horses' whiskers would be banned from this July, some British governing bodies have followed suit. H&H finds out more

    REMOVING horses’ whiskers is set to be banned at national level dressage and eventing.

    Following the FEI’s decision to ban the removal of “sensory hairs”, which comes into force this July, British Dressage (BD) included the following in its 2021 rule changes: “Trimming of the horse’s sensory hairs around the mouth, nose, eyes and ears is not permitted, as this may reduce the horses’ sensory ability.”

    BD chief executive Jason Brautigam told H&H the organisation’s general policy is to mirror FEI rules, “particularly those concerning equine welfare”.

    “So it was logical for BD to adopt the same position in terms of clipping, shaving or trimming of equine sensory hairs, in line with the FEI change,” he said.

    “Sanctions in FEI competition for contravening the rule come into force from July, but at national level we won’t be taking action during 2021 to allow adequate time for horse owners
    to prepare.”

    Mr Brautigam added: “Any British riders who take part in FEI competitions should be ready to comply with this rule for international shows from 1 July.”

    A British Eventing spokesman told H&H the rule banning sensory hair removal will be recommended this year, and mandatory from 2022.

    World Horse Welfare does not support the trimming of equine whiskers, as the horse uses them to sense its environment. The charity believes greater understanding of, and education on, this is needed.

    World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers told H&H:“We applaud BD for banning the trimming of whiskers (and apparently others will also follow suit), following the lead of the FEI on this.

    “Trimming a horse’s whiskers – a traditional practice done for no other reason than aesthetics – can be detrimental to the horse so cannot be right.

    “While this is certainly a step in the right direction, it will clearly only apply to horses that are competing. So educating the wider horse world on the sensory role of whiskers is also needed.”

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