Why do some foals have their heads and necks shaved?

Arabian foal with shaved head and neck displays his pretty faceQuestion: I have a question that may seem absurd, but recently someone posted photos of their colt online.  The photos looked like they had shaved their face of all hair. I am not sure why this would be done.  Can you enlighten me?

Answer from April Reeves: There are specific breeds that shave their heads and necks to show off the skeletal structure and refinement of their foals. This is especially so with the Arabian.

You will see little foals with wooly bodies and naked necks and heads. It does look odd, but to those who breed and show Arabian, it’s their way of letting potential buyers see what’s under all that hair. These breeders are very conscious of the facial structure of their foals, as many people buy Arabians for their faces as much as the rest of the body. 20-30 years ago it was all about the body and legs, and the face was important but the horse had to be substantial. Then about 15 years ago, their heads became
the focus of the horse.

Other breeds do this as well so that buyers can see the horses heads. While it may help sell a horse, I personally have never ridden a horse’s head in my life, so I focus on the body and the legs. Pretty is in a horse that is willing and capable.

Each breed gets it’s own little traditions and ways of doing things that often seem illogical. In some cases those ways become so obsessive that we create trends for trend sake more so than any improvements made.

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4 responses to “Why do some foals have their heads and necks shaved?

  1. I love arabs, however I am so disgusted at what the arabian breeders are doing to the the breed. I like how you say pretty is in a horse that is willing and CAPABLE. :)
    They’re basically creating weedy-spindly creatures that couldn’t do diddly-squat in an endurance race without snapping a twig-I mean leg… Whatever happened to halter shows being about breeding for the best characteristics that enhance performance and workability?
    How are these arabs supposed to breathe when they exert themselves when they’re faces look like they’ve been whacked with a rolling pin in the middle so there’s no room for air? It doesn’t matter how big the nostrils are, if there’s no room in the nasal cavity for the air to pass through it, the horse still can’t breathe efficiently!! It’s like dumping too much water in a small funnel- it’s not going to go through fast enough, and it won’t go where you want it to…
    Makes me sad :'(

    • I bred Polish Arabians for many years. They were all around 16HH, had legs of steel and none of them were spindly. Not sure what happened to the breed: I know I’m a bit shocked at it. Especially the faces: my herd would never have placed in today’s show ring. However, I found a breeder in Canada that has big solid Arabians: hopefully they make a comeback!

  2. I have a friend that is working at bringing the older version of Arabians back. Fancy but not small and petite. Ones that can go in any direction.

    • I use to breed tall Arabians with bone and substance. Not sure what happened or what went wrong, but it’s been lost for a while now, although I do know a few breeders in Canada doing just that: breeding for the older version. Good for your friend! Finding the right stock is very, very tough.

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