As the weather warms up in the springtime, you naturally want to get out and ride. Unfortunately, since your horse’s winter coat will not have shed out completely, activities in the spring sunshine can leave you with a bit of a dilemma. At the end of your ride, your horse’s heavy fur coat may be soaked through with sweat. You don’t want to leave him wet for the night, but getting him completely dry may be very nearly impossible. What can you do?
Are you planning on clipping a horse for the first time? In this article, we share smart horse clipping tips to help you keep your horse tidy. Read on to learn more.
What You'll Learn Today
- 1 Do You Have To Clip Your Horse?
- 2 What Kind Of Body Clips Are There?
- 3 11 Tips For Clipping Your Horse
- 4 Ask For Advice And Add Your Unique Touch
- 5 Be Brave!
- 6 Frequently Asked Questions
Do You Have To Clip Your Horse?
Clipping is not absolutely necessary. It’s just a good idea if sweating through a heavy coat becomes a problem in the wintertime.
Otherwise, remember that your horse has a heavy winter coat for a reason. If you only use your horse lightly or simply allow him to rest in winter, he doesn’t need to be clipped.
When you give your horse a good body clipping, it helps him stay cool during exercise, and it makes it easier for you to dry him off afterward. If the nights are still chilly, you can always add a rug for overnight to help him stay warm with his short haircut.
If you do clip your horse, have several choices in blankets at the ready to help your horse stay comfortable without his natural coat.
What Kind Of Body Clips Are There?
1. Strip Clip (aka: Belly Clip or Pony Clip)
Remove the hair from beneath the chin, along the underside of the neck, the chest and between front legs to the belly.
If you only use your horse lightly, this is a good choice. It opens up areas that are likely to sweat but still leaves a nice warm winter coat for the remaining cool days of late winter and spring.
2. Trace Clip or Chaser Clip
This clip may be done as a high or low clip depending on how high up on the neck and body you clip. For this type of clip, you first do a Strip Clip and then extend the clip higher onto the sides of the neck and body up around the flanks.
If your horse is used for light-to-moderate work and spends a great deal of time outside, this is a good clip.
3. Blanket Clip
This clip removes hair from all the areas that would be covered by a rug or blanket and leaves hair on the head and legs. Some say that this clip helps horses with sore backs keep their back muscles looser and warmer.
4. Hunter Clip
This clip is intended for field hunters. With this clip, all hair is clipped except for that on the legs and an English-saddle-shaped patch on the back. This clip keeps the legs warmer, the back more comfortable and the body cooler during the rigors of the hunt.
5. Full Body Clip
As the name implies, the horse is clipped completely from the nose to the base of the tail (leaving the mane in place). Legs are clipped from the top of the hooves up.
This is a good clip for hard working horses and horses who travel into warmer climates for competition during the winter months.
11 Tips For Clipping Your Horse
- Buy the right clippers. You’ll need a heavy duty set of clippers with combination blades. Going with a cordless clipper is always a good idea.
- Purchase two sets of blades so that you can switch them out frequently as you work. This helps prevent overheating, and if one set breaks or dulls in the middle of the job you won’t be stuck.
- Use a cooling fluid on your blades to help reduce friction heat. Check the temperature regularly as you work. If your blades get hot, take a break and/or switch them out.
- Keep your clipper blades sharpened for quick, painless results.
- Do your clipping in a quiet area where your horse won’t be distracted or startled.
- Cross tie your horse securely or have someone competent hold your horse if that would be helpful.
- Give your horse a good brushing before you begin clipping. Dirt in the hair makes clipping difficult and dulls your blades.
- Start by clipping with the grain of the coat. If you are pleased with that result, continue in this manner. If you want it shorter, switch to going against the grain.
- Work from bottom to top. Start with a belly clip, then move on to low trace, high trace, blanket clip, saddle clip and full body clip.
- Work in a symmetrical fashion so that if you do need to finish up the job at a later date, your horse won’t be left lopsided.
- Clip in stages so you and your horse can take regular breaks.
Ask For Advice And Add Your Unique Touch
There are many techniques in horse clipping, and you and your horse are each individuals. As you study and practice you will surely arrive at your own unique method, and that’s fine.
Here is a video that offers very good clipping tips, but there are a couple of things you should be aware of in regards to the video overall.
Horse Body Clipping Tips
First, when you ride, don’t grip with your heels as the rider does in the beginning of this film. Remember to use the strength of your thighs and knees to maintain your seat.
Second, when you tie your horse, don’t just spiral the lead rope around itself as this presenter does. Use a quick release knot that will hold your horse securely yet disengage with a single pull if you need to untie your horse quickly.
How To Tie A Quick Release Knot
The idea of clipping your horse for the first time may seem a little daunting, but really it’s not that complicated and it is important part of equine care.
Your first clip may not be too impressive, but just like anything else, practice makes perfect. The more you observe and try, the better you will get.
Frequently Asked Questions
A healthy horse that is just used for pleasure riding and is not shown or raced or used in rodeos does not need to be clipped. A horse who has health issues, such as Cushing’s disease, Equine Metabolic Syndrome or Anhidrosis may need to be clipped for medical reasons. Discuss this with your veterinarian.
When you clip your horse, you are committing yourself to being a very active participant in ensuring his or her comfort in regards to climate. If you do not have the wherewithal to diligently protect your horse from the elements, blanket as needed, etc., you should not clip your horse.
Be sure to assemble all of your tools in advance so that you have everything at your fingertips. You’ll need:
– Ear plugs for your horse
– A helper to hold your horse’s head
– Good quality, well maintained horse clippers
– Chalk to outline the pattern of the desired clip
– A step stool to make it easy to reach high spots
– A soft bristled brush to keep the blades clean as you work
– Blade wash, coolant and oil to care for the blades as you work
– Spare blades to avoid having to stop in the middle of the job if a blade dulls or breaks.
Plan your task and don’t rush. Do your clipping on a comfortable, still, clear day when you, your helper and your horse can reasonably be expected to complete the task without a lot of annoyance and suffering.
Start with a clean coat. Clip in a grid-like pattern, against the direction of coat growth. Apply even pressure. Be sure that your blades are nice and sharp throughout. Correct lines by re-clipping over them in an “X” pattern.
Begin clipping at the bottom of the left shoulder muscle. Clip the body from the left shoulder to the rump and then the right shoulder to the rump. Follow up with chest, legs and stomach and finish up with the head and face.
Bathing is a good idea because blade oil can be irritating to your horse’s skin.