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Should I clip my horse?

Posted on 17 August 2018 by Kim

Should I clip my horse?

Autumn already feels like it’s more or less here as the temperatures are cooler at night and the daylight hours have started to dwindle. When this happens, you’ll have noticed your horse’s coat has started to change too. A popular misconception is that this happens when the temperature starts to drop but this is not the case. This process starts in the second half of August. In September the sleek, summer look has usually started to disappear and by October, the woolly winter coat is apparent. It continues to grow until the year’s end. 

Why clip?

Horses grow a thick, heavy winter coat to keep them warm in the colder weather of the winter, so why clip and go against nature’s way of keeping them warm?

The primary reason why horses are clipped is to enable them to be exercised comfortably during this colder weather without undue sweating.

Clipping allows the body heat caused through exercise to escape, which prevents the horse from becoming too sweaty. If not properly cooled down after a ride, the horse can become chilled as the sweat cools and the long coat remains damp. A heavy winter coat can take a couple of hours to properly dry, and a horse that becomes chilled may be more prone to colic, colds, and other serious health conditions.

Clipping... 

  • conserves condition by avoiding heavy sweating
  • makes grooming easier and more effective
  • makes your horse look smarter, often younger and maintains a better, healthier looking coat
  • in the autumn, can invigorate your horse which means he’ll have a lot more energy.

Before I clip, what do I need to consider?

Time: One of the key things for you to consider is that you’re prepared for the extra work that’s involved in looking after a horse with a clipped coat. A clipped horse will need their rugs checked or changed both morning and night. Unless you can commit to doing that every day and twice a day, you should probably rethink your plan to clip your horse. Sorry, but it’s better to ask the question beforehand rather than proceed, not be able to cope and let your horse down.

An added bonus is that a clipped coat can significantly cut down on time spent grooming. It's easier to maintain and keep clean. A quick brush gets rid of the dust and dirt.

Energy levels: A woolly winter coat tends to make a horse quieter. Clipping a horse in the autumn can make him more lively and energetic. So, for your training and/or competition strategy, you really need to think about the timing of when you clip. For example, on the run up to a competition, if steadiness is required, clip 2-3 weeks before the event. Alternatively, if liveliness is required, you may clip on the day before the event.

Age: Consider your horse’s age. An older horse may have more difficulty battling the elements even without a clip, so you need to be sure that he can cope if you do decide to clip.

Appearance: Some horses are clipped because their owners want them to be smarter. It usually improves the overall appearance and condition of the coat. However, it’s more important that the horse’s interests are put first. 

Where presentation is paramount, clipping is no longer confined to the winter months. Some competition horses are clipped during the summer months as well.

Health: Clipping can have health benefits as well, as it can prevent skin problems. Keeping the legs and fetlocks clipped can help prevent conditions such as scratches and mud fever since the mud will have no hair to cling on to.

When should I do my first clip?

Generally, the first clip is in early October, the second in November and the final clip in December. If you're training or competing, you should think about the timing of when you clip on the run up to a competition. For example, if steadiness is required, clip 2-3 weeks before the event. Alternatively, if brightness and energy are required, you may clip on the day before the event. Planning ahead will make the task easier for both you and your horse. 

When do you start clipping? Do you clip all year round or just in the autumn?

Share your horse clipping tips in the comments below. You never know, your tip may just help a fellow equestrian!

For great products to help you on your way, visit our Clipping Help Centre, where you'll also find more articles relating to clipping. 

All About Clipping Help Centre

Author

Kim Horton

Co-Founder of EQUUS and a keen equestrian, when Kim's not at her desk she's with her horse, Waldo.

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