“You can’t touch a hair on a Friesian!!!” How many times do we hear this, as if it would be committing murder or worse still. Well I am here to debunk a few myths and hopefully give a clearer understanding by what is meant when you hear the term “to be shown naturally” with a Friesian. Let’s explore what we can and cannot do when it comes to trimming so we can still produce a respectable neat and tidy beautiful picture without looking like a clean hairy yak dragged out of a paddock.
We will start with the Face….
Ears – Trimmed back level with the ear lobe. Hairs inside the lobe are to remain but the hairs poking outside the lobe can be trimmed back and also tidy the hairs on the back of the ear so you create a nice outline.
Poll – Clipping a small bridle path is optional but I prefer a small plait the keep the mane tidy around that area if there is a lot of it causing issues. If you choose a bridle path it should be no more than approx 3cm wide, keep it as small as possible, just enough to sit the poll piece of the bridle on.
Chin & Jaw – All the underside long hair you can can chop it off! Get rid of that hairy yak look! You will thank me for it later when you stand back and admire the beautiful face of your horse that you can now see the entire outline of instead of half a head that almost looked conjoined to the base of the neck due to all that hair. Yes indeed trim it all back to the outline of the face.
Now doesn’t that look much better, with the added bonus that you can now fit your bridles and halters better on your horse’s face and see the details of that expensive tack you bought instead of being totally engulfed in wirey long hair.
Whiskers – Ok these are not to be touched. Just like the hair inside the ear lobe, the whiskers (all inclusive eyes and nose/mouth) serve a very important function for any horse and are not to be removed. If you do then be prepared to heed the wrath of your attending Inspector and Jury.
Mane – Presented Natural. You cannot dye your horse’s mane. You can do a tiny touchup of the sunbleached tips but you cannot dye the entirety of the mane. Part of the racial type category is the colour of the horse and this is generally taken by looking at the base of a horse’s mane… So if you lie about your horse’s colour you effectively corrupt the research results for a much bigger impact in terms of feedback about a particular stallion or Dam line, now that wouldn’t be very nice would it? Long term it will bite you in the butt…. And the Inspectors are not silly they can tell if a horse has been freshly dyed.
Some people like to plait the friesian’s mane in the pursuit of the crinkle permed look for the show ring….. Now I will repeat myself “Presented Natural”. Is a crinkle cut perm a ‘natural’ look??? …… No. Save it for fancy dress, at a keuring this will not help your case. It is distracting and more difficult for a jury to award your horse the marks he deserves if his mane and tail are all crinkly then you risk being marked incorrectly.
But what you can do to present the mane better and give the appearance of a longer neck is to trim just a little bit off the end of the mane topline where it meets over the wither. Don’t take too much off or it will give the opposite effect, but just enough to blend the top of the neckline into the wither.
Tail – The tail needs to be trimmed to an appropriate length so your horse cannot step on his tail, now usually this is somewhere just above the fetlock joint. The tail should be trimmed with a ‘feathering’ technique and not ‘banged’ (straight) like a Hacking presentation. Do not touch any of the dock hairs. To make the tail dock sit nearly all together you can dampen the dock with water and apply a tail bandage the night before. Take the bandage off just before you enter the ring and apply a little bit of hair spray to hold its position.
And I’ll say it again…. Please don’t go for the plaited crinkle perm look with the tail either…. It’s not ‘natural’ and it won’t win you any extra points at a keuring…. If anything it may even lose you points.
Legs – Trim the long hairs from the back of legs from the elbow to the lower canon where it meets the fetlock. Aim for a clean outline so stand back and check often the work you do.
Hooves – Carefully trim to shape the hair at the top of the fetlock so you create a near appearance of a blended boot. Removing all the loose hairs that stick out. Just keep thinking to yourself ‘clean outline.’ Tactfully trim any largely uneven hair that extends a long way down the front of the hoof wall (employing the feathering technique to blend as naturally as possible), with the objective being to create a balanced foot with a natural looking trim.
Lift the hood and remove the hair from behind the heel bulbs and back of Pastern In a narrow strip to just clean out that area to create a nice subtle outline when your horse extends his hoof in the movements. Being careful not to remove too much or the hair extending from the outer side of the fetlock. The objective is to create a neat, defined hoof and lower leg outline that can be seen in the action of the gaits to enhance the horse’s appearance of movements. Only a small select amount needs to be removed to achieve this result without losing any of the racial appearance.
Body – As previously mentioned with the mane and tail DO NOT dye any part of the horse’s body. Gently remove your hand any remaining Pig Hairs on the body, paying particular attention to the chest, gullet, elbows and between the buttocks.
So now you’re ready to enter the ring!!! The finished product should resemble a refined, neat and tidy presentation enhancing the racial type of the horse and highlighting its strengths. Any loose and Whisky hairs are distracting and deter the eye from a beautiful picture.