Deciding When to Clip Your Horse and How
Horse Clipping; not every horse needs clipping in winter, but under certain circumstances you may want to consider removing part, or all, of his coat.
The usual time to begin is from September to October. The hair will grow back, so you’ll need to repeat the process at three to four week intervals during the cold months. The final clip is in January.
Why Clip Your Horse?
As daylight hours decrease with the onset of fall, your horse will start to grow a thicker coat. If you plan to ride regularly during the cold months, clipping your animal reduces the amount he sweats and allows him to dry off faster after work. It also takes a lot less time to groom a clipped horse!
What Type of Clip Is Best?
The amount of coat to remove depends on your horse’s anticipated work load and his living conditions.
Note: After being clipped your horse will need blankets to keep warm, as he’ll have lost his natural protection against the elements.
A full clip is suitable for horses being exercised hard throughout the winter, and stabled with no pasture turnout. It entails removing all the horse’s hair: not only from his body, but also his head, ears and legs.
A hunter clip leaves hair on the saddle area to keep it protected, and on the legs for warmth. In some cases the lower half of the head is left untouched. This clip suits horses in medium to hard work.
The blanket clip is another good choice for horses in regular winter work. The hair from the head, neck, under belly and part of the rump is removed, leaving the legs warm and protected. The large area of coat left on the body resembles the shape of a blanket.
A trace clip suits a horse in light to medium work if he is turned out during daylight hours. The hair is removed from the lower half of the neck, chest, stomach and upper part of the hind legs where the horse sweats most. The low trace clip leaves more hair on than the high trace clip, where the lower half of the head hair is removed, and more is taken off the neck, barrel and hind end.
The Irish clip removes only the hair round the head, neck and chest area which makes it perfect for horses in light work and turned out in the daytime.
Its cousin, the bib clip, takes the coat off just the front of the neck and chest areas. This is useful if your horse is turned out year round.
The horse clipping website created by Lister Shearing Equipment suggests giving a bib clip to a horse that hasn’t previously been clipped as a good introduction to the process.
The clipping styles you choose will depend on how hard your horse will work and what his turn-out situation is.
If your riding will be intermittent during the cold months, he is best left with a full winter coat. Plan extra time after exercise to dry him off before he is turned out again – with a blanket, if appropriate.
Resources & Further Reading
Clipping Challenges (video)