Feathering (horse)

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The Clydesdale is an example of a draft horse breed with feathering.

Feathering also known as feathers is the long hair on the lower legs of some breeds of horses and ponies. On some horses, especially draft breeds, the hair can almost cover the hooves.[1] While nearly all horses will grow longer hair on the lower legs and back of the fetlocks at times, particularly in the winter, "feather" refers to the particularly long growth that is characteristic of certain breeds.

Feathering on the lower legs of a horse

Feathering is not to be confused with fetlocks, which are small amounts of hair only at the back of the leg, right above the hoof. Feathering can usually be seen completely surrounding the hoof. They appear to be coarse like the mane or tail, but are actually soft and silky.

Feathers are only found on heavier breeds.

Feathering is a characteristic trait of the many of the Mountain and moorland pony breeds from the United Kingdom as well as draught breeds such as the Clydesdale, Shire, Friesian, Ardennes horse and Gypsy Vanner.[2] The trait may appear in crossbreds of these breeds, though to date there has been little scientific study of the trait.


  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Horse" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 724.
  2. ^ Sponenberg, D. Phillip; Bellone, Rebecca (2017). "Chapter 11. Peculiarities of hair growth". Equine Color Genetics (4th ed.). John Wiley & Sons. p. 247. ISBN 9781119130604.