Clipping of Competition Horses' Whiskers Banned at FEI Events from 2021

Horses competing in FEI events will no longer be allowed to have their whiskers clipped or shaved as of July, 2021 and will result in disqualification.


The FEI Online General Assembly, which took place on 23 November, voted in a range of new rules and regulations - one of which included the banning of trimming a horse’s sensory hairs. The rule, which forms part of the FEI veterinary regulations, will apply across all disciplines competing in FEI events.


The rule states:


“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. Areas of hair that must be clipped, shaven or removed to allow veterinary treatment are exempt from this rule. As of 1 July 2021, Sanction 39 in Annex VI will be applicable.”


Sanction 39 refers to disqualification of the horse from the event. It adds: “Areas of hair that must be clipped, shaven or removed to allow veterinary treatment are exempt from this rule. As of 1 July 2021, sanction 39 in annex VI will be applicable.”




The FEI’s explanation for the change was: “The Veterinary Committee believes that the horse’s sensory hairs must not be trimmed or removed as it reduces the horse’s sensory ability. The change will align with legislation in a number of NFs where trimming or removal of sensory hairs is forbidden and in some cases carries a heavy sanction.”


Some countries had already banned the removal of whiskers to some degree prior this ruling out of their own accord - including Germany, France and Switzerland.


Changes to the FEI rules around sensory hairs can be viewed in full here.

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