When you think about a mustache, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Perhaps an old western movie with two cowboys about to have a shoot out and before they go for their guns, it’s a must to make a twist on their handlebar mustache. Or, maybe a milk mustache or a puppy with a natural milk mustache. We find mustaches strange, but hysterical and neat characteristics. How about horses with mustaches? No natural milk mustaches – real mustaches, like those old west cowboys.
Horse’s with mustaches are a real thing and not to be confused with whiskers, which every horse has. They are more common in horses with tons of hair such as Clydesdales, Shires, and the most common breed to acquire the stache - the Gypsy Vanner. What do all of these breeds have in common? All are stocky, have huge hooves, but they also have a ton of hair. They also have long luscious manes and tails as well as feathers on their lower legs usually covering the hooves. They have so much hair that some grow on their upper lip as well, and the horsestache is born!
Why all the hair?
These breeds have all of this hair because of their genetic makeup, in particularly the hair gene. This gene is cumulative. In other words, the more of this hair gene a horse has, the more hair their body will produce. Gypsy Vanners have horse breeds like the Clydesdale and the Shire in their ancestry tree and both breeds have copious amounts of hair on their body, so it is no surprise that the Gypsy Vanner has plenty of hair, too. The hair gene does not discriminate against male or female, so mares can grow mustaches too!
What’s the point in the horsestache?
Why the mustache probably grows due to a horse's genetic makeup, it can serve a purpose other than making us giggle each time we see it. The mustache can help guide a horse through the grass during feeding, like tentacles on an octopus. Which makes sense for horses like a Gypsy Vanner that usually have an outrageously long mane and forelock that more than likely cover their eyes. Like most of the horse’s coat, a horse mustache is usually grown in the winter and shed in the summer, making sense to its point in helping the horse find forage to eat.
What do you do with the mustache?
There is nothing wrong with a flavor savor, it is natural and has a purpose. However, just like human facial hair, it can get in the way. Many horse owners that have a horse with a mustache often shave it off. It can cause irritation for a working horse. If it doesn’t get in the way of the horse’s lifestyle, keep it and let that baby grow! What better selfie is there than with a horse with a mustache?
Horse Courses by Elaine Heney
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