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.
Whiskers, not Ear Hair
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 veterinary committee added that, "hairs in the horse’s ears are not considered to be sensory hairs and there is no perceived problem of sensory hairs around the eyes being trapped in blinkers of driving horses."
Disqualification as Sanction
The sanction of disqualification of the horse with clipped, shaved or with sensory hairs removed, has been added to support the proposed rule addition to Article 1004.1 regarding the prohibition of trimming or removing sensory hairs
Alignment with NFs
The change will align with legislation in a number of National Federations, where trimming or removal of sensory hairs is already forbidden and in some cases carries a heavy sanction.
France, Germany and Switzerland are among the nations where whisker and or ear hair removal is banned to some degree, in some cases it is written into animal welfare law and in others, the removal of specified vibrissae is not permitted for horses competing under sporting federation rules.
The rule comes into effect from 1 July 2021.
Text by Christine Armishaw, edited by Eurodressage - Photo © Astrid Appels