Necessity or Fashion ? Generally,not always, but usually the latter.
Clipping. ….I hate it. I hate doing it. I hate the hair, the itchy eyes and nose, the tiny hairs you get stuck in your bra that feel like your boobs are being stabbed by tiny swords!
BUT the biggest bug bare of mine, (except people who don’t bath or clean their horses for competitions), is clipping when its not A) necessary or B) just to keep up with fashion!
Horses grow thick coats in the colder winter months, their skin produces more grease in winter to help protect them against wet and cold weather. Naturally, horses are better at warming up than cooling down. A horse’s body is designed to generate store heat, as opposed to the human body which easily regulates body temperature. Which is why many people think their horses are cold just because they are.
HOWEVER, a thick coat is slow to dry, and it cannot keep a horse warm if it is damp, leaving the horse vulnerable to chills that can lead to illness. That's why clipping may be important.
Some competition horses, cobs and heavier breeds are clipped all year round to keep them cool and minimise sweating. As the coat tends to grow very quickly between September and December you may need to clip every 3 to 4 weeks, but most people find two to three clips per winter is enough, but obviously every horse is different.
You don’t need to clip just because everyone else is or you think other people will judge you for not clipping.
Clipping for medical reasons-
e.g. Cushing’s - The thick long coat of a Cushing’s horse can make them over heat and sweat, causing discomfort and distress in warmer weather. Regularly clipping the thick coat will be greatly beneficial to the horse/pony.
Things to consider before clipping…….
How much work is your horse doing?
How much does your horse sweat?
Is your horse a cold or warm horse? How much does your horse feel the cold?
What rugs do you already have and what rugs are you prepared to buy (budget)?
Has your horse been clipped before? If not - does he/she need to build their confidence with the clippers? Will he/she need to be sedated – this all adds up!
Will your horse be stabled or turned out, if so will they have shelter?
Top Tips for clipping your horse:
Always start at the shoulder and use long strokes that go against the direction of the hair growth.
Always test clippers first, don’t assume blades are sharp and ready to go -one too many a time I have done this and ended up getting someone else to finish him off when my blades have blunt!!
Change the angle or direction of your clippers when you come across whirls / whorls.
Check your blades are not getting too hot by testing them on the back of your hand.
Oil and brush your clippers every 10 minutes to help them stay cool and work at their best.
Sometimes it might be ideal to use a trimmer for areas such as the head and ears, it will be easier for you and more comfortable for your horse. Unless your horse is scared of trimmers, like Harvey, then carry on using the mains powered heavy duty clippers!
When you have finished brush away any loose hairs, once you are happy you haven’t missed any areas give him a final wipe down with a cloth and hot water to remove any grease.
Remember to rug your horse according to the weather and how much he feels the cold, not you.
Clean up the huge pile off hair you have clipped off, usually enough to stuff a mattress in my case!
Run home immediately to shower and wash away the tiny needles stabbing you in every orifice.
Unless your ultimate goal is to look like a human hairball at the end of the session, never ever wear fleece fabric when clipping. I highly suggest wearing a painters overall, cheap as chips! with elastic cuffs to prevent the hair from sneaking under the clothes, and sneaking into your bra!!!! Remove any lip balm/gloss, (as we know we equestrians are always glam) or mascara because hair sticks to EVERYTHING!! A baseball hat is essential for keeping the horse hair from adding an extra layer to one’s head, or giving us that tash so many of us pay to have waxed as it is. For those who wear glasses or contacts – always choose glasses! The hair sometimes gets into your eyes and contacts make it ten times worse. I would buy some cheap plastic safety glasses!
So all this considered and you have now decided your horse definitely does need clipping...what bit to shave?
Neck & Belly - A good clip for horses or ponies that are living out through the winter but may be used for the odd hack at weekends or during an occasional light evening. This is also useful for the stabled horse that feels the cold or is involved in light work. It is still necessary to rugged up field kept or stabled horses.
Bib Clip - A clip that consists of removing the coat from the underside of the neck down in front of the chest.
Low Trace – A type of clip for field kept AND stabled horses who have a tendency to sweat when exercised, but that are not really doing any hard hacking work, hunting or competing. Horse’s coat is completely removed from the underside of the neck and belly, between the forelegs and the top part of the hind legs. Occasionally seen with half or full face clip.
Blanket Clip - A clip suitable for horses that are involved in an active degree of medium to hard work and/or competition work. The coat is all but removed except a "blanket" area over the hind quarters and the saddle area. Occasionally seen with half or full face clip.
Hunter Clip - It's all off! Except for a small area of mane, the saddle area, the legs (all four) and a small "v" shape is often left above the tail.
Full Clip -Away with the lot! Generally this includes he
ad and ears!!
So…..think before you clip!! Why would you feel the need to clip all your horses coat off just to put them in a nice rug?