Horse Breeds With Feathers – Our Favorites

Last Updated on March 13, 2022

Have you ever seen horses with a unique feature on their legs, such as the Clydesdale, well here will introduce you to horse breeds with feathers? The majority of horses with leg feathering are draft breeds. These are cold-blood horses with stocky, heavy builds and calm temperaments.

What Are Feathers

Feathers or feathering is not actually a load of feathers like you see on a bird. Horse feathering is long, sometimes very thick hair that grows on a horse’s lower legs. Some breeds have more feathers than others.

The feathers help protect the horse’s leg from water and hazards, such as rocks and prickly bushes.

What Are Feathers

Horse Breeds With Feathers


The Clydesdale is a draft horse that originates in Scotland. Its first purpose was pulling plows on farms and as cart horses. This breed has some of the most amazing leg feathers. The breed came to popularity during the 1800s and is one of the most famous draft breeds.

Most people will recognize Clydesdale, especially Americans. Clydesdale is one of the largest horse breeds. In efforts to promote and preserve the breed, Budweiser set up a Clydesdale stud farm. The best horses from this farm go into training as a Budweiser Clydesdale.


The Shire is the largest of the draft breeds. Like Clydesdale, it started out as a farm and workhorse. Shire horses originate in England and are older than Clydesdale, developing in the late 18th century.

The Shire has heavy feathering, particularly down the back of its legs. One of the tallest horses in history is the Shire. Sampson stood at a massive 21.2 hands tall.

Gypsy Vanner

The Gypsy Vanner is smaller than most draft breeds. On average, the Gypsy Vanner stands between 13 and 16 hands tall. Even though it is one of the smaller horse breeds with feathers, it has some of the most impressive featherings.

Gypsy Vanner

It is the Romani people who are responsible for developing this breed. They needed a sturdy, calm horse to pull their caravans. Another name for a Gypsy Vanner is Cob. The majority of Gypsy Vanners are multi-colored.

You will see him in black and white, or bay and white. Some have one blue eye. The breed has very long, thick feathers.

Dales Pony

The Dales Pony is native to Great Britain. It is a short, strong, and hardy pony adapted to live in the harsh climates of the United Kingdom’s mountains and moorland. The breed has an excellent temperament and spent its early careers as a working animal.

The average Dales Pony stands between 14 and 14.2 hands tall. The majority are black in color, but also come in bay, grey, and roan. The feathers of the Dales Pony are long and silky, but not as thick as some other breeds.

Fell Pony

The Fell Pony is another native mountain and moorland pony hailing from the United Kingdom. It originates in the north of England in the region of Cumbria. Like the Dales Pony, the Fell Pony is extremely hardy.

It is a smaller pony than the Dales pony with a maximum height of 14 hands. It is a solid, pretty, intelligent breed that is ideal for children and small adults. They tend to have more feathering on their legs than the Dales pony.

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This feathering must have a silky feel and appearance. Course feather hair is frowned upon by the breed society. The majority of Fell ponies have black or bay coats. Grey is allowed, but chestnut and color are not accepted.


The Friesian is a beautiful black horse with active, high stepping movement. They are excellent carriage horses. The breed is also used for riding, particularly dressage. The Friesian originates in the Netherlands and has a history that dates back centuries.

Its long history makes it one of the world’s oldest horse breeds. The first Friesians worked as war horses, carrying heavily armored knights. Over time the breed is refined with the addition of crosses with the Spanish Andalusian horses.

This cross is responsible for the modern Friesan, a lighter, more athletic horse. It is a rare breed that almost disappeared during the 20th century.

Caring For A Horse’s Feathers

A horse breed with feathers needs special care. A good diet will help ensure the feathers sustain regular growth. The thick leg hair can lead to skin problems.

You need to frequently wash and dry feathers. They also require treatment with detangler regularly, followed by daily brushing to keep the feathers in top condition.

Horse With Feathers Conclusion

Horse breeds with feathers are cold-blooded. This means that these horses have gentle, calm temperaments. They rarely get upset by spooky situations that affect hotter-blooded horses. If you have a horse breed with feathers, make sure you groom them daily.

Daily grooming will keep the feathers in their best condition as well as help you spot skin conditions under them quickly.

What horse breed has feathers?

Feathering is a characteristic of many breeds of horses originating from United Kingdom and many draught breeds, including Clydesdale, Shire, Friesian, Ardennes horse and Gypsy Vanner. The Clydesdale is probably the most famous breed that exhibits feathering.
Feathering or feathers is the long hairs on the lower legs of some breeds of horses and ponies. They are only found on heavier breeds. Feathering is a characteristic of certain breeds of horses that produces exceptionally long hairs in the lower legs and back of the fetlocks. The hairs are longer than normal, which creates a fluffy effect. On some horses, especially draft breeds, the hair can almost cover the hooves.
Feathering is not the same as fetlocks, which is a type of hair on the back of a horse’s leg, above the hoof. Feathering differs from fetlocks in a way that can usually be seen completely surrounding the hoof. They might appear to be coarse, but they are in fact soft and silky.

Do Belgian horses have feathers?

Draft breeds of horses, including the Belgian, the Brabant, and the Percheron, have light amounts of feathering. There’s no set rule regarding what’s considered acceptable; individual animals might exhibit a lot of hair on the lower legs. It’s interesting to note that in horses, different breeds can exhibit quite a bit of variation. Even within a single breed like horses, we can see a wide variety in the amount of feathers present.
The term “draft horse” is used to describe any horse that has been bred for its ability to pull a cart or wagon. These horses are usually larger than other breeds of horses, and are generally not as agile as racing horses. They may also have longer legs, larger heads, and deeper chests.

Why do Gypsy Vanners have feathers?

The theory is that these horses evolved in the wet, muddy, and bushy places in the north. Their shaggy fur gave them protection from snow and ice in the winter and protection from brambles and thorns in the summer. 
This horse was selectively bred for over half a century from a vision to create the perfect horse to pull the Gypsy caravan. The breeders focused on making sure the horse was gentle, easy to train, and able to tolerate hard work. The Gypsy Vanner is a crossbreed of the Clydesdales, Shires, and native British ponies, meaning it combines the physical and mental characteristics of all of them.

How do you care for Gypsy Vanner feathers?

Hair care is an important part of keeping your horse healthy and beautiful. Start by choosing the right shampoo and detangler. Products should be gentle on feathers and skin and safe for the horse. Some products contain residues that can irritate feathers and attract dirt and mites.
To avoid these problems, use a shampoo designed specifically for horses. Horses can be prone to skin conditions. When grooming your horse, check for signs of mange, scabies, ringworm or other skin problems. It is important to treat any problems early because they can become very serious.