• The Prickly History of Beards: The Horseshoe Moustache

by Mr. Spruce

Movember - everyone’s favourite facial hair themed month - is upon us again! To celebrate this joyous occasion we're dedicating our 'Prickly History of Beards' section to arguably the pinnacle of moustaches; the Horseshoe.


Note: The Movember Foundation is an incredibly awesome global charity committed to ensuring that men live happier, healthier, longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $685 million and funding over 1,000 programs focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor mental health and physical inactivity. We would strongly strongly encourage you to check them out here, and get involved!

The Horseshoe Explained

To begin, it is important to define what exactly constitutes a Horseshoe moustache. The moustache must be full and (preferably) thick, extending to either side of the mouth and then stretching vertically downwards to end at the wearer’s jawline but no further. It should be of one continuous growth and the rest of the face should be clean shaven; no soul patch, stubble, goatee or otherwise. It should, naturally, resemble an upturned horseshoe.

The Horseshoe can often be confused with the Fu Manchu or the Handlebar moustache. There are, however, a few key points of difference. The Fu Manchu gets it name from a fictional character created by British author Sax Rohmer and later depicted in film and television sporting a distinctive style of moustache. Although similar to the Horseshoe at first glance, the Fu Manchu stretches to the edges of the mouth before extending downwards toward the jawline.

"The Horseshoe, typically, is grown and sported thick and proud, with a bare chin and the rest of the face as close-cropped as possible."

The difference is that the Fu Manchu relies on the wearer growing the whiskers at the edge of the mouth to an excessive length so that they naturally droop downwards in tapered tendrils. There is no hair growth on the face below the level of the mouth. The Handlebar, on the other hand, stretches to either end of the mouth before taking an upward turn, often with the help of moustache wax, or other appropriate product, and careful grooming.

The Horseshoe is also sometimes known by it’s more contemporary moniker, the “Biker”. It is commonly considered to be a particularly masculine style of moustache and, indeed, has been popularised in today’s zeitgeist by stalwarts of the sporting, counter-culture (specifically bikers), or heavy music fraternity.

Hollywood Hogan

Terry Gene Bollea, better known by his official wrestling name, ’Hulk Hogan’ is arguably one of the most recognisable wearers of the Horseshoe today. Hogan first rose to prominence in the World Wrestling Federation in the late 1980's and 90's as a red bandanna sporting, all-American hero. He also grew in fame through appearances in various film and television productions, including a notable turn in 1991’s ‘Suburban Commando’. Hulk Hogan traded on being a ‘macho’ man and has rarely, if ever, been seen without his signature, blonde, Horseshoe moustache.

“Always keep it even, long enough to cover part of your lip, but not too long to cover your teeth. And always, always, always keep it clean!"

The Horseshoe may have origins in modern cowboy culture, although, in reality, this is difficult to quantify. Historically the thickness of a man’s moustache was indicative of military rank and experience. New recruits would have to make do with wispy whiskers, whereas seasoned commanders could show off, sporting luxuriant beards. The Horseshoe, typically, is grown and sported thick and proud, with a bare chin and the rest of the face as close-cropped as possible. This, coupled with the perceived personas, traits or lifestyles of famous wearers has undoubtedly led to it’s association with alpha masculinity.

Merv Hughes

Legendary Australian cricketer, Merv Hughes. Image courtesy of wikipedia.com

The Horseshoe and Music

As a means of demonstrating this image here are several other notable characters that helped to popularise the Horseshoe moustache:

Glenn Hughes, AKA., ‘Leatherman’ of popular, New York, disco group the, “Village People”. The Village People were created specifically to represent and appeal to popular gay fantasy personae. Hughes was himself a keen motorcycle enthusiast and his character portrayed a masculine biker in the band.

Amongst many styles of facial hair worn by James Hatfield of American Heavy Metal band, “Metallica” fame, the Horseshoe moustache featured heavily in his early repertoire.

Another musician and Hughes that helped bolster the Horseshoe’s macho credentials is Jesse Hughes, frontman of California based band, ‘Eagles of Death Metal’.

Yet another Hughes, in the form of legendary Australian Cricketer Merv Hughes represented Australia as a right-arm, fast bowler between 1985 and 1994. He was once rumoured to have had his impressive Horseshoe moustache insured for AU$400,000.

Notorious Australian-born criminal Mark “Chopper” Read was as famous for sporting a Horseshoe moustache as he was for his other, less family-friendly exploits.

Mark 'Chopper' Read

Australian criminal-turned-author, Mark 'Chopper' Read.

In terms of grooming advice here’s what Hulk Hogan has to say on the matter, “Always keep it even, long enough to cover part of your lip, but not too long to cover your teeth. And always, always, always keep it clean! The first one who is going to smell it is you, so keep it clean brother.” Sage words Hulk.

Whatever moustache you decide to rock this November don’t forget that it’s all for a good cause and, just as you shouldn't limit your philanthropy to one month a year, don’t be afraid to maintain that mo’ year round!

Please remember to visit the Movember Foundation here to find out more about the awesome work that they do and to get involved yourself. 

Keep on mo'ing!

Mr. Jack Baxter. 

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Mr. Spruce
Mr. Spruce


Mr. Spruce aka Andy. One half of Worthy & Spruce. Blogging about all things gentlemanly, and many things not. Tired but tireless dad, business dude, consumer of coffee, and deliverer of timely quips.

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