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What is the best clip for my horse?

Posted on 18 October 2016 by Kim

What's the best clip for my horse? 

There are a few factors to consider when deciding which is the best clip for your horse. It primarily depends on his workload but other factors such as weight, the local climate and how well you know him need to be taken in to account also.

Before you reach for the clippers, spend time thinking about which is the best clip. Don’t commit the "sin" of clipping off more coat than required as it’ll be viewed dimly as very bad management by fellow equestrians and we’ve all been on the receiving end of that!! Apart from which it’ll cost you a good deal to keep him warm.

Take a look below at the different types of clips; simply start in the category that matches the type of work your horse or pony is currently in...

Occasional or Very Light Work Light Work
Moderate Work Moderate to Fast Work
Hard Work Very Hard Work

OCCASIONAL OR VERY LIGHT WORK

There are a number of clips that can be used for horses and ponies with this workload as it allows some work without getting overly hot.

Suitability: All the clips in this category are suitable for a child’s pony or an adult’s hack, living out through the winter but which may be used for the odd hack at weekends. It’s useful too for a stabled horse that feels the cold or struggles to maintain condition through the colder months of the year.

Rugging: It’s still necessary to rug up all horses with these clips for day and night time turn out.

Bib Clip

The most basic type of clip. This clip removes only a small amount of hair from the front of the neck and chest.

Horse Bib Clip


Apron Clip

A step on from the Bib clip where additional coat is taken off to the girth line between the front legs and the top of the forelegs.

Horse Apron Clip


The Neck and Belly Clip

This is trimmed from under the belly upwards between the forelegs and along the lower line of the neck and lower jaw.

Horse Neck and Belly Clip

Neck and Belly plus top of front legs

This is a variation of the clip described above but in addition the area on the top of the front legs is also removed. Removing the hair at the tops of the legs helps with grooming and the removal of mud prior to tacking up. Plus, believe it or not, the tops of the legs can easily become sweaty even in the lightest of work.

Horse Neck and Belly Plus Top of Front Legs Clip

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LIGHT WORK

If your horse or pony is doing a light work regularly, i.e. daily, or those that are prone to getting sweaty, this is the section for you! Also good for young and/or nervous horses as this clip is fairly quick and simple to do or for horses that sweat around and in-between their back legs.

Typically, a horse with these clips is stabled at night unless the weather conditions are exceptionally mild or the horse is particularly hardy.

Rugging: always rug for both for either of these clips to compensate for the loss of the coat.

Irish Clip

This clip goes from the bottom of the horse’s jaw to under his stomach. To mark out the area to clip, a line is drawn from the top of your horse’s head to his stomach. This line will make, roughly, a “triangle” shape and everything that is within it, is clipped. Sweating will be reduced around where the horse sweats the most, i.e. its armpits and chest, but the rest of the body is left on so the horse is warm where it matters most.

Horse Irish Clip

Low Trace Clip

There are a few versions of the Trace Clip: Low, Medium and High. The original evolved for carriage driving horses and followed the lines of harness “traces” on the underside of the neck and belly. It still remains popular for riding horses today.

The great feature about all trace clips is that only the hair is clipped from the areas that are likely to sweat the most during work. So when making a choice about which style to go for, it’s very much down to the amount of work the horse.

The clip removes hair from the underside of the neck, chest, the top of and between the front legs, belly, lower barrel and across the lower quarters.

Horse Low Trace Clip

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MODERATE WORK

So your horse is in moderate work? Read on to see your choices.

Medium Trace Clip

Similar to the Low Trace clip except that more of the coat is removed, i.e. higher up the bodyline. Half of the head can be taken off as well if required. Do bear in mind that if you take half the head off, considerable loss of heat occurs because the clipped skin covering the bone structure of the face is very thin.

Suitable for: horses in moderate work that are only turned out during the day.

Not advisable for: horses living out unless your stabling is well sheltered and certainly not suitable for those in really exposed parts of the country or if the area is prone to extreme weather conditions.

Rugging: always rug with this clip.

Horse Medium Trace Clip

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MODERATE TO FAST WORK

Picking up the pace, there's one clip you need. It's the...

High Trace Clip

Similar to the Low Trace and Medium Trace clip except that more of the coat is removed, i.e. higher up the flank, and half the head is removed too.

Suitable for: Horses in steady work with the occasional requirement to undertake some fast work or for those entered in competitions through the winter months;

Horses with this clip are stabled at night and are just turned out for a few hours a day, weather permitting.

Rugging: The more hair you take off, the harder it is for your horse to maintain his body temperature. So stabling and lots of rugs are essential. Use extra rugs when the weather is particularly bad.

Horse High Trace Clip

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HARD WORK

Really upping the pace, you've got a few choices.

The Chaser Clip

This clip is similar to the Blanket Clip except that the upper part of the neck is left on so that these muscles are kept warm.

Suitable for: Originally this clip was used for steeplechase horses. So this means that this clip is for horses in hard work and/or competition ready. All horses with this clip are fully stabled.

Rugging: Always rug with this clip. Use extra rugs when the weather is particularly bad.

Horse The Chaser Clip

Blanket Clip

The coat is all but removed except for a "blanket" area over the hind quarters and saddle area which looks a bit like an exercise sheet! The hair on the legs is left on for extra warmth which is fine as this is an area that’s not prone to sweating. The head is normally clipped out too.

Suitable for: Horses that are stabled only and who do a regular amount of medium to hard work and or competition work.

Rugging: Always rug with this clip. If you turn out during the day, use a neck cover – your horse will appreciate it!

Horse Blanket Clip

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VERY HARD WORK!

You asked for it! Here are the hard core clips you need if you're pushing hard...

Hunter Clip

It's all off except for a small area of mane, the saddle area, the legs and a small "v" shape is often left above the tail.

Suitable for: horses that are stabled at night and who work really hard, are regularly out competing and hunting. All of the coat is taken off except for a small area of mane, the saddle area, the legs and a small "v" shape is often left above the tail.

Horses which have undergone this degree of clipping need a warm stable, good food and a keen eye on their condition.

Rugging: Always rug with this clip. Turn out with a neck cover is essential even in mild weather. Use an additional layer under the New Zealand rug when the weather is cold. Use an exercise rug when out exercising.

Horse The Hunter Clip

Full Clip

Off with the lot of it!

Suitable for: Horses in hard, fast, competition work, racing and/or hunting regularly only.

Possibly a useful clip for those considering some early spring events and shows in order to get a nice short coat.

Horses which have undergone this degree of clipping need a warm stable, good food and a keen eye on their condition.

Rugging: Always rug with this clip. Cover well with several warm rugs and a neck for restricted to short periods on fine and mild days during the better daylight hours. Use an exercise rug when out exercising.

Horse Full Clip

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Author

Kim Horton

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

Comments

  • Juliana Bergman-Burnside posted on October 19 2016 at 11:10 AM

    Thank you. Fantastic article and has helped me decide the correct clip for my Horse.

  • Caroline posted on October 20 2016 at 03:10 AM

    Thank you I found this article very interesting and useful as with all your articles they are very beneficial so with regards to clipping my horse, however please could you give me some suggestions as what to do, I’ve only had him four months and trying my clippers out just by turning them on made him freak out, he gets very sweaty around girth area so needs some sort of clip but just the noise as I said has him jumping in the air… not sure of the best solution he is only five and a gentle boy really, he has been mistreated earlier in life lots of scars etc I basically took him on as a rescue and he’s turned out to be a most loving genuine horse.. I don’t want to freak him out or upset him as it has taken lots of love, time and gentle patience to get him to where he is now with regards to our bond which is getting stronger with each passing day and I just wanted some advice really to go forward would sedation be an option? As I said I adore him and just want to do my best by him… thank you in advance if you have any ideas.

  • Sheron posted on September 01 2017 at 11:09 AM

    Thanks brilliant article. If you have a hot horse like mine that sweats up easily I always do a full body clip and leave his legs on (spoke to the vet about it and they advised that as I school him 3/4 times a week and he hacks at the weekend to clip him out). He also has cushions so his coat grows very thick and long in the winter. I ride in the evenings and if he gets sweated up I have to wait until he dries before he can be fully rugged and put back in the stable which means I don’t get home until after 9pm most nights. I have a good selection of different weight rugs so he won’t go cold (not that he ever does). I love my boy to bits and always consult the vet or my yard owner for advise if I am not sure. He is getting on in years but I am so lucky to have a horse that is not phased by the clippers he always tries to have a good look at what I am doing when I clip him.

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