Sunday, April 18, 2010

Bearded Ladies

A recent sunny day I was out by the barn with my son when I noticed him scrunching up his eyebrows while studying my face.
"No offense, mom, but ... you need to shave."
Ah, yes. One of the joys of being blessed with southern European blood is the occasional need for the upper-lip wax. My time was due. I looked at Chroicoragh. "You feel my pain, don't you?"
Gypsy horses bear a great deal of facial hair. It's one of the signs of good hair genetics, and because of that, the gypsies rarely, if ever, use clippers their horses. The more the hair, the better the horse. And that, in turn, makes the breeder look better. So they like 'em hairy! 
U.S. breeders, especially those who show their horses, prefer a cleaner look. For promoting stallions, where one of the desirable attributes is a "sweet" head, clipping the horses' face and ears will more readily show off his features. It's been my experience that breeders who have been successful with other, light horse breeds like Quarter Horses and Arabs (the two predominant types seen here in Arizona), are used to clipping, and they like a nice, smooth look. And when they acquire a Gypsy and see that super hairy face, they can't wait to get their clippers out and clean them up. 
For me, although I can appreciate the show-shorn variety and how polished and pretty they look, I don't know, there's something about all that hair that just adds to the whole mystique of the animal. I think it goes with the whole Unicorn thing. (I'm convinced Chroi is waiting for the right moment to reveal her true identity!) I also tend to prefer things that are a bit imperfect and unpolished. Which is a good thing, because the way Chroicoragh rolls around in the dirt, she never stays clean for very long.
At any rate, if I ever do get my girls into a show ring, I most likely would clip them. I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Here are some photos of Chroi and Keira with their beardy faces, and some more refined Gypsies. Tell me what you think -- to clip or not to clip?

 Grey stallion left, the gorgeous Fantasia Farms Chavo (Siofra's big brother!). You can also see some beautiful Gypsies, clipped for show, and also au naturel at:
The occasional "lucky" Gypsy Horse will even sport a Snidely-Whiplash-type of mustache

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