Anyone who has read this blog regularly or looked really closely at our show pictures has probably picked up on the fact that Henry goes au naturale – he gets to keep his ear hair and whiskers.
Basically, Henry keeps his ear hair and whiskers because I can’t think of a single good logical reason to remove it, but I can think of a lot of good logical reasons to keep it.
He keeps his ear hair because he has some aural plaque in one ear, and while he’s not at all ear-shy, he gets VERY fussy about wind/bugs/rain in his ears. The hair gives him some protection from the elements, so I won’t clip it out. Even if he didn’t have the aural plaque he’d still keep his ear hair… over the years I’ve really come to feel like horses genuinely need it, so while I used to clip the ears with some of my past horses, I won’t do it anymore. The hair prevents dirt and insects from getting in, and since Henry spends the majority of his time outside when the weather is good, I don’t think it would be fair to take his ear hair away. Plus Henry’s little squirrel ears really match his personality, I get a kick out of them. I just trim the little dingleberries before we go out in public.
The whiskers, I feel a little bit less strongly about. Henry keeps his because he manages to scrape and bang his face enough as it is, I’m not going to cut his whiskers off and make it even easier. Plus I do believe that there’s something to the fact that the whiskers have so many nerve endings and are actually sensory organs that link to the brain… I think they’re more important than we realize. I wouldn’t clip the whiskers off a cat or dog, so I can’t think of a good reason to clip them off my horse either. I’m not one of those that thinks trimming whiskers is cruel, but it makes me happy to see horses that get to keep them.
In Germany and Switzerland (and I think Belgium and Sweden, at least) it’s illegal to clip the whiskers off, plus I know the Brits discussed a rule change proposal a couple years ago as well. Go to a show in Europe and whiskers are the norm. I figure if they can do it, so can I, and no one has ever commented negatively on Henry’s whiskers. Probably because you really can’t even see them unless you get very close.
What’s your opinion on trimming whiskers and ear hair? Is your horse clean shaven, or au naturale? Why?