Horse With Feathers on Their Feet
We’ve all seen movies with beautiful horses galloping across the screen, their long manes flowing in the wind and their feathered feet carrying them over the ground. I always dreamed of having a horse like that myself. In this article, I will share the horses most well-known for their flowing locks.
Which horse breeds have long hair and feathered feet? Various horse breeds have traits that result in long thick manes and feathered feet. Here are ten of them:
- Gypsy Vanner
- Icelandic Horse
- Black Forest Horse
- Dales Pony
- Miniature Horse
While some of these horse breeds will draw top-dollar for their looks, others are more popular and reasonably priced. I’m going to take a deep dive into each of these breeds and give you all you need to know about these horses with feathered feet!
Feathered Horse #1: Gypsy Vanner
The Gypsy Vanner is a horse that goes by many names, including the Irish Cob and the Tinker Horse. Though it can be challenging to describe the horse, given its handful of names, it is not difficult to recognize. Gypsy Vanners originated in Great Britain and Ireland and were (and still are) famously used to pull the caravans of the Romani people. Because of this role, and the fact that it was always in close proximity to the family, the Gypsy Vanner is known to be gentle and loyal, as well as confident and manageable.
Though considered “small” draft horses, they can reach anywhere from 13 to 16 hands high or taller. The breed is known for its long, thick mane and tail. In addition, the Gypsy Vanner has extensive feathering, usually starting at the knees. Typical of draft horses, this breed has powerful hindquarters and smooth, effortless gaits.
Feathered Horse #2: Friesian
Friesians are strong, courageous horses originating in the Netherlands around the 11th century. They are unique in that they are strong enough to be considered light draft horses, brave enough to have served heavily in the military in the Middle Ages, and athletic and agile enough to compete successfully in many modern equestrian sports, especially dressage.
If you search for an image of a “long-haired” horse online, there is a high chance the first photo will be of a Friesian. They are the typical “beautiful” horse – almost entirely black in color and with a long and often wavy mane and tale. In addition to the luxurious hair, they have silky feathering at the feet.
Friesians were intimidating war horses that charged into battle. To learn more about other war horse breeds, visit my article Top 10 Medieval War Horse Breeds: History, Size, & Pictures.
Feathered Horse #3: Icelandic Horse
The Icelandic Horse is well-known for its pure bloodlines and is the only breed of horse found in Iceland. Horses that are exported from Iceland are not allowed to return in order to preserve the health and purity of the genes. In addition to its country of origin, the Icelandic Horse has also gained popularity throughout the rest of Europe and North America.
The Icelandic Horse is unique in appearance and easily recognized, with its thick neck and deep chest. They are strong animals, yet only reach, on average, between 13 and 14 hands high. Their feet are not fully feathered, though the horse is known for its full, coarse mane and tail, giving it a wild, wind-swept appearance. The breed also has a thick double coat to protect it in bitterly cold temperatures.
Feathered Horse #4: Haflinger
The modern Halfinger originated in the mountains between Austria and Hungary, believed to be an ancient breed with lines traced back to the Middle Ages. While the breed is still heavily concentrated in Austria, breeding programs can also be found in Italy, the United States, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, and England.
Unlike most breeds of horse, there is very little variety in the coloring of Haflingers – they are found almost always in some shade of Chesnut, with very thick, flaxen (blonde) manes and tails. They are between 13.2 and 15 hands high and often have lightly feathered feet.
Feathered Horse #5: Clydesdale
Made famous mainly due to its presence in inspiring Super Bowl commercials, the Clydesdale is a draft breed of horse with Scottish origins. The breed was imported into the United States in the 1800s and has historically been used in agriculture work and carriage pulling due to its incredible strength.
Clydesdales are large draft horses, averaging 16 to 18 hands high and often weighing over a (literal) ton. Like many draft breeds, they have long and thick manes and tails. Many are bay in coloring, with abundant white feathering nearly covering the hooves. Because of their striking appearance, and their docile temperaments, they are heavily featured in parades and other events.
Feathered Horse #6: Shire
The Shire is an old breed of British draft horse developed in the 17th century and was first introduced into the United States in the mid-1800s. While the Shire has been used for many heavy jobs throughout history, including forestry work, they are most well-known for their work in transporting goods between public houses and breweries.
Shires are tall horses, averaging between 16 and 17.2 hands high, and can weigh up to 2400 pounds. They are incredibly strong and are most frequently found in the black, bay, and gray coloring. They have beautiful, long manes and thickly feathered feet. While the feathering was originally relatively coarse, with the introduction of Clydesdale genetics in the early 1900s, it evolved into the long, silky hair it is today.
Feathered Horse #7: Black Forest Horse
The Black Forest Horse is a rare breed developed in the German area of the same name. As a more petite draft horse, the breed was used primarily for agricultural and forestry work. While once a horse frequently bred and used, it is now considered “endangered,” with a fraction of the population numbers it used to have.
The Black Forest Horse is only registerable under one color combination – a chestnut body with a flaxen mane and tail. With a body that is often a darker chocolate chestnut, this gives the horse a striking appearance with unique color contrast. The horse has light feathering at the feet, a significant tail, and a magnificently thick and long mane.
Feathered Horse #8: Dales Pony
The Dales Pony is native to the moorlands of England and was historically used as a working pony in the lead mines of the Dales and later by the military in both World War I and World War II. This breed is labeled as “threatened,” with fewer than 5,000 registered in the world today.
The Dales Pony stands between 14 and 14.2 hands high and is strong and well-muscled. They have abundant, silky manes, tails, and feathers at the feet. Most Dales Ponies are black, with black manes and tails.
Feathered Horse #9: Andalusian
The Andalusian is one of the Iberian breeds and has been recognized as a distinct breed since at least the 15th century. It has been used in history by the Spanish military, known for its bravery and level head in battle. Today, Andalusians are used successfully in several equestrian sports, including show jumping and dressage.
Andalusians are flashy horses, both in appearance and in movement. While many Andalusians can have many different coat colors, around 80% of the Andalusians in the United States are grey. They have long, thick manes, tails, and light feathering at the feet.
Did you know that Andalusians are some of the most expensive horses in the world? To get a list of the most expensive horse breeds, visit my article Top 15 Most Expensive Horse Breeds in the World.
Feathered Horse #10: Miniature Horse
Miniature Horses are a breed of horse developed to have bodily proportions similar to those of a horse (as opposed to a pony) but in a small form. They originated in England and are most commonly kept as pets or, more recently, as service or therapy animals.
On average, Miniature Horses are around 40 inches in height (short enough not to use the “hands” method of measurement). They come in almost all colors, but most have a disproportionately abundant mane and tail, with the former often framing the head in a thick mass of hair and the latter sometimes dragging on the ground. Miniature Horses have unique health considerations compared to larger horses but often live longer than their taller relatives, with a typical lifespan of 40-45 years.
Beautiful Horses: The More Hair, The More Care
If you have your heart set on a horse with a luxurious mane, tail, and feathered feet, you likely don’t have to look far. While some of the horses on this list are rare or even endangered, some are quite easily found in most regions. Haflingers, Clydesdales, and Miniature Horses are particularly easy to find in my own hometown.
There is one thing to remember, however, and that is grooming. While you may swoon at photos of Friesians with luxurious manes and Clydesdales with silky feathers, think about the hours of grooming that likely went into that photo shoot. Those of us caring for horses know how much time is spent on grooming, especially in the Winter months. Add in double the mane and muddy feathers, and your work will be cut out for you. Of course, if you’re like me, grooming your horse isn’t exactly a chore, and the longer hair can be a great excuse to spend more time engaged in “equine therapy.”
While horses with long flowing manes and thick feathers can be quite eye-catching, so can horses with unique colors and markings. To get a complete list of horse colors, read my article 21 Common Horse Colors, Markings, & Patterns With Pictures.