Although it’s considered a coarse trait and is widely undesirable, I like a horse with a Roman nose.
It’s often said that imperfections are what make individuals beautiful. If everyone and everything boasted perfect, symmetrical features, things would be fairly boring. Well, looking around, I suppose I feel that way about my horses. I love a strong hip, balanced topline and elegant, refined neck and throatlatch just as much as the next guy. Color is always a bonus, and something with a kind eye and strong, straight legs always wins in my book. And yes, a baby-doll head is desirable as well. But if a horse has ears that slightly wing out, a marking that splashes a little wildly out of the lines, or a nose that has a bit of a bump in the middle of it, I secretly love that, too.
Yes, it’s true, I kind of like a Roman-nosed horse.
A Roman nose on a horse is when there’s a bump or a rise somewhere on the part that falls between his forehead and his nostrils. Basically, it’s a convex profile—the opposite of a refined, dished head. Sometimes it’s subtle and sometimes, it’s extremely pronounced. Some breeds, such as draft horses, Lusitanos, Andalusians and certain gaited horses have a tendency to flaunt Roman noses.
It seems that in cowboy culture, the Roman-nosed horse has a bit of a reputation that makes him less attractive than his refined equine peers. There are songs, stories and poems that talk about a horse with a coarse head who has tendencies to be tough, ranchy, powerful and maybe even a little broncy. I suppose this stems from the types of genetics that come with that trait. I’ve noticed a lot of Mustangs have that type of a nose and some of them are the toughest horses I’ve ever met. But that’s just a personal speculation, nothing more.
The Roman-nosed horse is sometime bypassed by those who desire a prettier, more delicate look on their riding partners. And I can understand why. The ones who are extremely bowed out in the face don’t seem very approachable and it’s not a trait that is super marketable. In some breeds, it’s even considered a flaw to have a rounded nose. But shoot, it doesn’t affect his speed, the way he travels, his personality, work ethic or the rest of his conformation.
For me, a horse with a bit of a bump on the bridge between his eyes and his nostrils comes across to me as distinguished, noble and interesting. As long as he has big, liquid eyes to flank that bump on either side, I’m all about it and wouldn’t turn a nice-moving horse down just because he doesn’t have a picture-perfect face. When I see a horse with a Roman nose, I can’t help but think of something that’s hardy and strong. He boasts character and I would like to think there’s plenty of intelligence and personality under that unusual profile.
Sure, if it’s extreme, it’s too much for me. And a Roman-nosed horse with big ears, small eyes and an ill-build is something I will pass on every time. But if a mare or a gelding hits all the buttons and happens to have a bit of a convex profile, he can jump in my trailer and come home with me any day.
And while we’re at it, go ahead and load the ones with the big ears, too.