The Horse Head Mask, made from soft vinyl and latex, has become a symbol for anonymity (like the Guy Fawkes mask) and humor over the internet, most commonly in Japan.

Mask Origins

The mask was manufactured to be a Halloween costume by the Seattle-based Archie McPhee & Co. novelty dealers, being sold on other websites as early as February 1, 2002.

Horse Head Adventure

The concept of wearing a horse head mask for purposes other than as a Halloween costume came about as early as June 29, 2005 in a book from the popular travel guide series known as Lonely Planet.

The book was dedicated to traveling styles that are “a little less formulaic” than normal and is called “The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel”.

The 22nd experiment on the book was called “Horse Head Adventure” and what was required for this experiment was a person to wear a horse mask while they were on their vacation. It was a social experiment to see how people would react to the weirdness of the mask.

Tom Green

Tom Green, a talk show host famous for the numerous amounts of 4chan prank phone calls, had an episode where he wore the mask and started screaming while shaking his head around, seemingly as a parody of Mitchell Henderson. This is currently the first known usage of the mask in web video.

Nico Nico Douga

In Nico Nico Douga, a Japanese video-sharing website, many who wish to remain anonymous wear masks. One of the masks used was the Horse Head Mask. The mask eventually took off as one of the signature masks used in NND, similar to the Scream Mask and the Darth Vader Helmet. Unlike those two other masks though, the Horse Head Mask became popular in its own right.

It is possible that this is due to the popularity of the Japanese performance artist Wotaken, mentioned later in this article.


Because of its appearance on the Tom Green episode, and since a lot of other NND are often reposted, the Horse Head Mask found its way onto the popular video-sharing website, YouTube. Due to the mask’s strangeness, it was seen by most people as something humorous.

Dancing Japanese Man Wearing a Horse Mask Cooks Wild Mushrooms

This horse-headed video was uploaded onto YouTube on January 9, 2008, by YouTube user mrhorseshoe, it is known as “Dancing Japanese Man Wearing a Horse Mask Cooks Wild Mushrooms” and features just what the video’s title implies: A man wearing nothing but a horse mask and a variety of thongs (most notably a gas mask) cooking wild mushrooms while dancing. The man in the video is a Japanese performance artist known as Wotaken.

The video was featured on numerous blogs and news sites such as BuzzFeed, 3Yen, and Urlesque. It was even given its own Facebook group. PC World called it one of the most disturbing YouTube videos of all time.

Horse Boy

A man named Dobbin Horsome donned the mask immediately when a Google Street View car was driving by, and was photographed by the passing vehicle. The picture was taken in the Hardgate area of the city of Aberdeen, Scotland.

According to Dobbin, he was just heading to a pub where his newly wedded friend was at when he noticed the Google car driving up towards him. Since he had the horse mask with him, he decided on a whim to wear it so that the car would take a picture of him with it on.

Having just been heading back to the pub to see my recently-wedded Scottish mate with the infamous mask in my hand, only to spot a famous Google car, in a split-second moment of thinking “I’ll only regret this if I don’t at least give it a go”.

Here are two short clips of the party he mentioned:

The split-second decision can be seen in this picture compilation:

Dobbin, nicknamed Horse Boy, became a viral internet phenomenon and caused BBC News to be e-mailed by webbies from all over Europe stating that they knew the identity of “Horse Boy”, many of which proved to be false.

Dobbin Horsome has his own blog, Twitter account, YouTube channel, and Facebook account.