Autumn, winter, slush and rain… The combination for dirty, wet horse legs. Often we tend to shave all the hair of horses. Neatly shave legs, trim the beard, tidy up ears and so on. A sleek horse that looks neat without much hair like a real fashion model. But is it wise to shave everything so bald?
Hair has a function!
It is now (hopefully) established that you don’t touch a horse’s tassels and don’t shave them off. These tassels are extremely important and have a great function and prevent horses from bumping themselves. But the hairs in and around the ears also have a function, they prevent dirt and water from entering the ears and protect the ears from all external influences. Therefore, never cut/shave out the ear cups, leave the hair on the inside!
And the same goes for the hairs on the legs of horses, they also have a function. A KWPN horse does not have as much hair on its legs as a Tinker (Irish Cob), but the hair on the legs of a warmblood horse also has a function.
Leg hair keeps the legs dry!
Whether your horse only has a small tuft of hair on the back of the pastern cavity, the well-known fetlock, or is provided with lush feathers. All these hairs have the same function: to keep the skin on the legs dry and clean. The hairs are placed in such a way that the water is drained through the fetlock and drips off the body. This keeps the legs dry and clean.
This is even more apparent in horses with large feathers. Are the legs muddy/wet after a day of rain? Then spread the hairs on the leg and look closely. You will see that the bottom 1-2 cm of the skin is dry and clean. The rain and mud do not completely penetrate the feathers, so that the skin remains dry.
Sock horses have their own leg protection
So you can actually say that horses with feathers have their own leg protection. The layer of hairs partly protects against tapping, but it also prevents the skin of the legs from getting wet and dirty. You can see it as a raincoat to protect against mud. But if the feathers are completely soaked, problems can arise.
Check the feathers regularly!
Feathers are ideal and have a function, but they can get in the way when a problem arises underneath. Mud fever, mites, cpl and other skin problems can occur in all types of horses, but unfortunately we see it more often in feather horses. Part of it is genetics, but it is also often discovered later (too late), which means that the problems are sometimes more serious. In horses with feathers, it is therefore extremely important to regularly check the legs for wounds, blemishes or mug. And has a problem been identified? Then shave the hair so that air can reach it, wounds recover much easier! And if there are recurring problems with, for example, mites or cpl, it is even advisable to shave off the feathers completely. You can then better control the skin and treat the conditions better.
Does your horse have feathers and would you like advice on how to deal with them? Our own horses also have feathers so we have experience with them! Please feel free to contact us for more information and/or advice.