As the days start to shorten and winter approaches horses grow thicker coats and their skin produces more grease in order to keep warm and protect against the cold weather. Whilst this is essential for natural wild horses it can cause problems for domesticated horses especially those that are ridden or exercised regularly. When sweat mixes with the grease of the coat it creates a film that mats the thick hair together, causing the thicker coat to take much longer to dry and therefore preventing the horse from being able to keep warm. This can leave the horse susceptible to chills and illness.
Clipping involves removing the horse’s coat by a machine and therefore allowing the horse to cool down quicker after exercise and reduce the amount of sweat produced. This helps to keep the horse in good condition as well as reducing time and labour involved in keeping the horse clean.
Different types of clips
- A full clip involves removing the entire coat including legs and face.
- Ideal for horses doing strenuous exercise such as hunting and competition horses.
- This type of clip makes the horse easier to clean and quicker to dry off.
- If a horse is particularly sensitive around the saddle region, such as thin skinned Thoroughbreds, a saddle patch can be left on.
- A hunter clip involves removing all the coat off the body except for a saddle patch and leaving the coat on the legs.
- Leaving the hair on the legs offers some protection from the cold and from thorns and conditions such as mud fever.
- leaving a saddle patch on reduces saddle friction and is often preferred for horses that are cold backed.
- A chaser clip involves removing the hair from the head and lower two thirds of the body.
- The hair behind the horse’s ears and across the top part of the body to the tail is left on.
- Designed to look as if the horse is wearing an exercise blanket.
- Hair is removed from the head, neck, shoulder and belly.
- Ideal for horses that are in light work or not ridden regularly.
- A popular choice for very sensitive cold backed horses.
- A good option for horses that live out throughout the winter months.
- In a trace clip the least amount of hair is removed. Only a strip of hair from the shoulders, belly, thighs and under part of the neck is removed.
- This clip is a good choice for young horses that have not been clipped before to familiarize with the noise and vibrations.
- Horses that do not like being clipped as its much less time consuming than a full or hunter clip.
- Horses in very light work.
- Horses that live out in winter months doing light work.
Preparations before clipping
- If possible select a warm, dry day and always start in the morning.
- Ensure there is good lighting.
- Provide the horse with a hay net to prevent the horse from getting bored and restless.
- Always make sure the horse is clean and dry before clipping. A dirty coat will cause the blades to blunt much quicker and if the coat is wet or damp the blades wont be able to cut.
- As clipping can be quite time consuming, always ensure you have a rug/blanket to cover the horse up with to keep the horse warm.
How to start
- Its always recommended to start on the near side and on the shoulder of the horse, clipping against the direction of the hair.
- After the shoulder proceed to the neck, chest and belly, followed by the quarters and back.
- Repeat this order on the off side.
- Always keep the machine flat and never actively push the clippers, only guide them and allow the clippers to do the work.
- Make each sweep as long as possible.
- An assistant may be required for ticklish or difficult parts such as the head, belly, in between hind legs and elbow.
- It is very important to constantly check that the clippers are not over heating throughout the clip as this can burn the horse and damage he clippers.
- Always give the horse a brush down with a soft brush and a warm cloth to remove any lose hair and surface scurf that may irritate the horse and cause discomfort.
- Always ensure the horse is fitted with a warm rug so as not to get cold.
- It can have a positive effect to stable a nervous horse next to a quiet horse that is being clipped to familiarize the noise of the clippers.
- Get the horse used to a grooming machine so that it gets used to some noise and vibration.
- Playing some music or putting some cotton wool in the horse’s ears may have a calming effect.
- Using smaller, battery powered clippers that are less noisy may prove beneficial, although it may not be possible to acheieve a full clip with these.
- The use of a twitch on the nose may be beneficial for difficult or ticklish horses.
- As a last resort sedation may be necessary but in order for the sedative to work effectively the horse must be calm and unworried when it is administered. So always sedate the horse before starting and work quickly.
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The Saddle Bank Team x