Why Do Horses Grow Mustaches?

Last Updated on March 15, 2022

We all know that horses have some pretty impressive hair, such as their mane, tail, and leg feathers, but do you know why there are horses with mustaches? Yes, you did read that right, some horses can grow their very own mustache, which is one of the coolest oddities about the horse. Let’s take a look at the horse that can pull off this feat and why it happens.

Which Horse Breeds Grow Mustaches

Not every type of breed can grow a mustache. This particular talent is the reserve of hairy breeds. Hairy breeds are horses with leg feathers and heavy builds. As a default, this includes cold blood horses.

Not only do these horses grow extra long, luxurious leg hair, but they also have thick luscious manes and tails. It is this extra hair growing ability that carries over to the growth of an actual mustache on the upper lip.

Horse breeds that grow mustaches include the Clydesdale, Gypsy Vanner, and the Shire. However, it is usually the Gypsy Vanner that wins the top prize for growing the most impressive mustache. Both female and male horses can grow a mustache.

Why do Horses Grow Mustaches

The exact reason horses grow mustaches, other than genetics making them prone to more hair growth, is not certain. However, one theory states that it has a similar function to whiskers. The mustache helps the horse search out grass, especially in dark conditions.

One thing to note about mustaches, it that it is usually part of the horse’s winter attire. In the spring, the mustache sheds out with the rest of the winter coat. This helps the grass searching theory make sense.

Native types of horses will have evolved to survive in winter conditions where food is scarce. Something to help them seek out food during these months gives the breed more chances of survival.

Another reason a horse might grow a mustache is due to health issues. Hormone imbalance or malnutrition can encourage extra hair growth.

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Other Weird Horse Facts

  • Horse mustaches are not the only odd fact about horses. Here are some other cool and surprising facts about horses.
  • Have you ever seen a horse smile? Well technically, it isn’t smiling, but it looks like it is. This is when the horse curls its upper lip up, and you can see his top teeth. This smile or laugh is the horse’s flehmen reaction.
  • A horse will do this when it encounters a new or unusual smell. It enhances the horse’s ability to take in the smell, and determine if it is good or bad.
  • Wonder what forms the hoof of the horse? It is keratin, the same thing as a human fingernail.
  • Horses can sleep when standing up, but they must lie down for REM sleep. The horse is able to stand up due to its stay apparatus. This system of tendons and ligaments allows the horse to keep his legs locked, so he doesn’t fall over while the rest of his body relaxes.
  • We consider Mustangs and other feral horses around the world as wild horses. In many ways, they are, but they are not truly wild horses. There is only one true wild horse left, this is the Przewalski’s horse, which is only found in Mongolia.
  • The horse’s brain weighs 22 ounces, half that of a human. It also takes up less space in the face than the horse’s teeth.
  • Finally, one odd fact you might not know about horses is that they cannot vomit.
Other Weird Horse Facts

What Other Animal Can Grow A Mustache

Horses are not the only type of animal that can grow a mustache. The emperor tamarin, a monkey from the Amazon rainforest sports a white mustache. The most famous animal with a mustache is the walrus.

The walrus’s mustache is so admired, men have worked tirelessly for generations to recreate, with only some success.

Horse Mustache Conclusion

The fact that some horses can grow a mustache is one of the strangest things about them. It is so unbelievable, pictures of horses showing off their mustache have reached the non-equine community in viral social media posts. Some exclaimed it isn’t possible.

However, it is very true that horses can grow a mustache. It is adorable, and when you see one in person, you just want to help give it a bit of styling.

Do horses use their whiskers?

Unquestionably, the horse’s whiskers are the most important part of its sensory system. Their whiskers, both around the eyes and muzzle, provide sensory feedback on the horse’s environment and surroundings in the form of touch and vibration. The length of the whiskers determines the safe distance from unfamiliar objects, compensating for the blind spots a horse has in front of its face and underneath its nose. Horses’ whiskers are located on the upper lip and under the nose. They are located in a pattern that makes it possible for a horse to see and smell. The whiskers are also important for grooming, because they are the only means of removing dirt and debris from the face.

Is it bad to cut horses whiskers?

Also called vibrissae, are different from regular hair both in their anatomy, their location, and their purpose. The length of the whiskers determines the safe distance from different objects, compensating for the blind spots a horse has in front of its face and underneath its nose. Cutting a horse’s whiskers may sound like a good idea, but there are some drawbacks. When a horse’s whiskers are cut, they grow back in a shorter, thinner and less useful form. While it is not technically harmful to trim whiskers, doing so does reduce the animal’s ability to use these specialised tools as nature intended. 

Is it illegal to trim horse whiskers?

At the 2020 FEI General Assembly held on 23 November 2020, a new rule that prohibits the clipping/shaving of sensory hairs was passed as part of the veterinary regulations. The Veterinary Committee believes that the horse’s sensory hairs must not be trimmed or removed as it reduces the horse’s sensory ability. Voted through unanimously, the rule states that horses are not permitted to compete in FEI events if the horse’s sensory hairs have been clipped and/or shaven or in any other way removed unless individual sensory hairs have been removed by a veterinarian to prevent pain or discomfort for the horse. The FEI has over 2,000 member countries, and more than 1.5 million horses are registered with the FEI. In recent years, the FEI has focused on developing the sport of dressage, which involves the performance of dressage horses and ponies.

Why do cobs horses have moustaches?

Cobs need to be able to see better in poor lighting and in cold, wet climates. As such, they develop a moustache so that they can use it as a scratching device and feel their way around. This moustache allows them to graze more easily in poor and dark conditions.  They can feel the grass better and differentiate between different types. They are often seen scratching around with their fluffy facial hair. A moustache is not the only grooming feature that cobs develop. They often develop whiskers on their cheeks and neck, and may also have whiskers on their feet. This is because of the importance of scent in their lives.  They use their sense of smell to find food, which is why they develop whiskers on their feet. They also use their whiskers to detect the scent of other horses.