January or early February is the best time of year to get the final clip done, before the summer coat starts to break through. Clipping should be done to benefit the horses, obviously if your horse sweats it’s not a good equine management to leave their sweaty hair dry onto them – it could result in horses getting a chill or a fungal skin reaction. After exercising, the clipped horse can be sponged on the clipped area (preferable with warm water) and the horse will dry almost instantly!
Before clipping your horse ask yourself these questions –
- What clip is ideal (clipping shouldn’t be purely cosmetic)
- What rug have you got vs. what you’ll need. If you are already rugging your unclipped horse in a medium fill or 150-200g rug before clipping (a full clip) the horse will need 350-400g fill rug after clipping (please refer to my previous blog ‘rugging the horse’).
- Is my horse a free sweater – warmbloods & thoroughbreds tend to sweat more than a native pony, therefore more hair should be removed. Worth noting what areas of your horse sweat. Generally, It’s the neck, girth and flank area but if you notice your horse only sweats in the neck there would be no need to clip beyond the flanks.
- Safety – if it’s your horses first time getting clipped it would be a good idea to speak to your clipper or vet about sedation options. Always let the person holding and clipping the horse know if it’s your horses first time getting clipped or if the horse is a nervous animal. Likewise, if your horse kicks maybe best to do and chaser/bib/ Irish style clip or/and have it properly sedated. If your horse if sharp or nervous sedation will help the horse relax and hopefully result in a positive experience for all involved. Have a bridle/chifney/rope halter so extra control on standby if needs be.
- Wash the horse the day before if possible. I usually give them a good work out the day before the horse gets clipped (so he gets nice and warm) so I can give them a good wash and avoid riding the day they get clipped.
- Have an extension lead and reliable light source.
- Tail bandage to avoid a slip of the clippers and taking off unnecessary hair!
- Quarter sheet – to keep the horses warm while I’m working.
The bib/stripe clip
Ideal for horses only in light work, maybe a pony that lives out and gets ridden on the weekend. The hair is taken off the underneath of the neck to the girth or halfway way between girth and flank.
Pros – Inexpensive. Your horse won’t need a heavy fill rug a light / medium fill should be sufficient.
Cons – The hair might grow back quickly if you don’t have a full neck rug so generally, I find I re-do this clip 2-3 times a year.
The Irish / chaser clip
Ideal for horses in light work, that would be a horse that gets ridden 3 times a week or just 11-15min work a session. Common for horses living out, that don’t sweat excessively or a young horse that hasn’t been clipped before. The hair is taken off the underneath and ½ way of the neck to the flanks.
Pros – if your horse was un-rugged before the clip a medium fill rug will suffice.
Cons – let’s hope the person clipping is good at lines!
The trace clip
Ideal for horses in moderate/medium work that may tend to sweat on their undercarriage as it reduces sweat on neck, chest, belly and flank. Can come in a high or low style. Popular with horses living out as their hair on the top half of their body acts as insulation. Will still need to be rugged. 200g – 300g fill ideally, high or full neck advisable.
Pros – if your indecisive what clip is best this is a safe zone, even horses in hard work that don’t seat can get away with this clip
Cons – again LINES and the fact that you may be chopping and changing rugs between night and day temperature depending.
Ideal for horses in medium to full work, the hair left on their back and hind quarter acts as a exercise sheet and the clipped area – full neck, chest and belly reduces tendency to sweat particularly if your horses sweats a lot on the neck and chest. Ideally, a full neck rug and 200-350g fill.
Pros – if a trace clip goes wrong you can convert to a blanket. I love this clip if your horse isn’t a free sweater but is in constant work.
Cons – Be mindful that if you rug with a 250g fill when you’ve a blanket clip they will need more (350g+) should you decided to give a full clip for their next clip (Jan).
Hunter clip is like a full clip but leaving the leg hair on as protection which is advised, especially if your hunting. The hair is taken off the entire body, except for the saddle area. This clip is commonly used clip for free sweating horses or horses in full work. Horses will need a 300 – 400g fill rug, many people will have horses stabled at night to keep them warm but if you’ve a good rug and field shelter many horses tend to be content and comfortable living out.
Pros – probably the easiest clip, horses dry quickly after exercise & washed.
Cons – You will need to monitor your horse’s temperature and have a stable ready or under rug should your horses need an extra layer at night. Cold horses won’t thrive well.
Hair clipped off everywhere including the face and legs. Common with show horses or competition/eventers. Ideally suited to horses in full work that live in at night. Horses will need a 300 – 450g fill rug and possibly an under-rug/insulator, depending on temperature, (please refer to my previous blog ‘rugging the horse’).
Pros – horses look clean and sharp, easy to spot cut or skin reactions.
Cons – no protection on the legs, this isn’t advisable if your horse hunts or spends time in a field with blackthorn bushes etc. Boots can rub the horses legs. Will need to be every vigilant when it comes to weather temperature, the legs have a large surface area, so a lot of heat is lost through their legs.
Use a hot towel with baby oil to remove dirt and grime for the horses clipped coat after clipping.