10 December 2017


Neatorama has a small gallery of horse mustaches.

One has to assume that at one time there was an evolutionary advantage to having a mustache*.  Question for those of you who have horses - do you clip/shave these? or are they best left alone?

* I was trying to work out an etymology from "mus" = mouse + "tache" = pocket.  Didn't work.
1580s, from French moustache (15c.), from Italian mostaccio, from Medieval Greek moustakion, diminutive of Doric mystax (genitive mystakos) "upper lip, mustache," related to mastax "jaws, mouth," literally "that with which one chews," from PIE root *mendh- "to chew" (see mandible).  Borrowed earlier (1550s) as mostacchi, from the Italian word or its Spanish derivative mostacho. The plural form of this, mustachios, lingers in English. Slang shortening stache attested from 1985.


  1. In all Western countries except Germany, horse's muzzles are usually kept shaved smooth if they are shown in competition. It's only a few heavyweight breeds from the UK and Ireland that grow mustaches, your average thoroughbred or children's pony just grows the fine white whiskery hairs. Most people whose horses do grow mustaches keep them for the novelty factor though.

  2. That is an amazing photo. Most horses have some amount of whiskers, but actual mustaches are rare. The whiskers can play a role similar to a cat's whiskers - horses can't see immediately in front of their noses, so having some long, semi-stiff hairs are useful for feeling things before their nose hits it. In the US, whiskers are usually clipped off for shows.

  3. In the US, only people that show typically shave whiskers. I personally don't (even when showing) since they are used to sense their surroundings. It's rare to see a mustache though, I've only seen one on my trainer's Quarter pony, and it's a small one. That photo is amazing. And not at all common.

  4. I trim nose and chin whiskers, ear hair, but never touch the mustaches. The chin and nose whiskers will get ice balls, like glass beads.

  5. We trimmed the moustache off a pony a few winters ago and she became very distraught with all the new sensations on her nose and took quite a long time to acclimatize.

    Another pony that came off the Howgill Fells in Cumbria (England) three winters ago has grown noticeably less of a moustache each year she has been in a domesticated environment. She was semi feral and would need to search through snow and rough plants for food. Now she doesn't need the protection of the moustache to keep her nose warm and stop it from getting cut up on gorse she is growing much less!


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