Clipping the horse

Whether or not to clip the horse depends on a number of different factors; far from all horses require clipping. Based on the below questions, you can decide whether you should or want to clip your horse, and what type clip would be right for your horse.

  • How often do you ride your horse until it is sweaty?
  • Does your horse spend much of the day outside? Or is it perhaps in loose housing?
  • Do you ride in an arena or mostly outside?
  • What is the temperature of the stables?
  • Are you willing to compensate for the clipped coat with the various rugs needed?

If you decide to clip your horse, you start by clipping in the autumn, when the horse grows its winter coat. Depending on the growth of the coat, you may have to clip the horse a few more times during the course of the winter. When spring is approaching, you should stop clipping, since it may disrupt the natural shedding, which would result in a poor summer coat. Read more about different clip types below.

Full clip

All of the coat is removed. There is a variation of the full clip where you save the coat on the legs and the area underneath the saddle. On the head, you clip the cheek in line with the cheek piece of the bridle.

Irish clip

The neck, chest, front legs and half the abdomen is clipped (you can draw a diagonal line from the withers to the groin).

Blanket clip

The horse is clipped so that the remaining coat forms a rug or blanket on its back. The coat on the legs is saved, but if the horse sweats a lot, it is possible to cut an oval up to the flank.

Hunter clip

All of the coat is removed on the body. The head, legs and an area underneath the saddle, in the form of a numnah, are spared.

Trace clip

The coat is clipped from the throat latch, down the throat, the lower part of the abdomen and all the way to the back of the thigh. This clip does not require as much covering of the horse, as the clipped parts are relatively small.

Icelandic clip

A triangle covering the throat and chest is clipped, as this is where the horse will sweat the most. At the same time, this clip allows the horse to spend a lot of time outside. 

Benefits of clipping

  • The horse sweats less, which increases its stamina, and many horses will gain energy after a clipping.
  • If the horse sweats, it will dry off quicker, which also impacts on the stable environment.
  • It will be easier to keep the horse clean.

This is how you do it

Safety is important! It is always good to have another person present. Make sure that the surface the horse is standing on is dry; never clip in a wet stall, as water and electricity do not mix. You should use a circuit breaker that is triggered immediately if there is a problem with the clippers. Make sure that the chord is not lying on the floor for the horse to step on.

Lubricate the machine and blades before you begin and during the work. Listen carefully to catch any changes in the noise of the machine as these could indicate that it is struggling or becoming overheated. Feel the blades to make sure they do not heat up and burn the horse. It is also important that the blades are sharp, otherwise they may pinch the horse. It is good to turn the machine off every now and then to let it cool down. 

You should start by getting your horse used to the sound of the machine. If the horse is uncomfortable with the noise, you can put some cotton balls in its ears. Then run the clippers along the body so that the horse can get used to the vibration. If this goes well, you can start clipping.

Always move the machine against the direction of the hairs, and work in long, even strokes for the best results. Learning to clip well takes time. You can draw out the lines to cut with chalk or water-soluble ink, it will help you get an even result.

There are a number of different clippers to choose from. It is preferable not to have a machine that is too heavy or too loud. There are both AC-powered and battery-powered clippers. The battery-powered ones are often easier to use and quieter, which makes them more suitable for sensitive horses. The benefit of an AC-powered machine is that they are most often more powerful, and you do not have to worry about the battery dying.

Important to remember

A clipped horse is much more exposed to chafing from rugs, saddles and legs. Make sure that all your equipment is the right fit. Sometimes coat sheen can help prevent chafing.

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