Why Some Horses Have a Mustache

While most people associate mustaches with human facial hair, horses can also sport the impressive whiskers. These mustaches are tufts of coarse hair that grow around the upper lip and corners of a horse’s mouth. They might seem like a peculiarity — a quirk of nature — but they hold a far more important purpose than you might imagine. Just like a cat’s whiskers, these tactile hairs provide sensory input and help the horse navigate its environment. When the whiskers make contact with an object, they transmit information about its location, size, and texture back to the horse’s brain. This sensory input is particularly valuable in low-light conditions, or when a horse is exploring unfamiliar terrain. The mustache also distinguishes between edible plants and potential hazards, such as thorny bushes or toxic plants. There’s also a social aspect to the mustaches. Equine communication relies on a complex system of body language, vocalizations, and touch. When two horses touch noses, their mustaches help them assess each other’s intentions, mood, and familiarity. Although horse mustaches are low-maintenance, they still require some attention to keep them clean and healthy. It’s not recommended to trim a horse’s mustache, but they must be brushed to keep them from becoming tangled.