It’s coming up to that time of year again … Clipping season or as non horsey people know it, Autumn. You go onto the yard one day and see your beautiful trimmed horse with their summer coat. Then the next day you're met by a woolly bear or it may feel that way. Love it or loathe it, clipping is an essential part of most horse owners’ Autumn/winter regime. We are here to give you a helping hand with some top tips and the best type of clip for your horse!
Why do we clip our horses?
A thick winter coat is perfect for horses who live outside during the winter or are retired. Their coat is designed to protect them from the elements without the need of a rug. However, for a lot of horses this fluffy coat may need to go. Just like us, when horses exercise, their temperature rises resulting in sweating to cool themselves down. After exercise we then have to wash them down. This ensures that bacteria does not build up in the coat and cause sores or irritation. Now we are not sure about you but washing them down in the depth of winter is less than ideal for all parties involved. The winter coat will also retain moisture for longer and can cause the horse to catch a chill. Even doing a simple clip such as a trace or a bib clip can prevent you horse from getting too hot. Clipping will not only help to stop your horse getting too hot when ridden but also make life a lot easier when grooming. If you’re unsure which clip is right for your horse keep reading below to see the different types of clips.
Warning - clipping is the art of turning your horse from a woolly bear back into their smart sleek self. Side effects of removing hair from your horse’s body is the fact the hair will be transferred onto your own body and clothes. Even if you try your best to avoid it. Always come prepared with a spare pair of clothes. Unless you want to get back in the car with a furry coat.
Clipping when is best to do it?
This is the million dollar question ...when to clip? A horse’s winter coat will start to grow towards the end of August (depending on the summer we have had). Most people start to clip towards the end of September/beginning of October before their horse’s coat gets too out of control. Then followed by a second clip around November and a third around late December to January.
Top tip to remember?
A horse’s summer coat can start to grow as early as late January and so, clipping after this point may interfere with the new coat growth, this will depend on the horse and the type of winter we have had. Here are some points to consider before clipping your horse:
- Has your horse been clipped before?
- What types of clip have they had in the past?
- Do they need to build their confidence with the clippers?
- Will your horse be in a stable overnight?
- How much exercise does your horse have a week?
- The amount your horse sweat?
- How much does your horse feel the cold?
- What rugs do you have and will they be suitable to keep your horse warm with a clip?
- How clean is your horse as you should never clip a dirty horse?
Prep for your clipper 6 easy steps to think about before you tackle you fluffy four legged friend:
- You clippers should be in full working order no one wants a half clipped horse. Have your clipper serves and the blades sharpened. Always advised once a year before they get out away for the summer. Blunt blades making clipping a nightmare and uncomfortable for your horse.
- Oil blades before starting
- Check the blades and tensioning before clipping.
- Different type of clippers have different tension ensure you have the right tension setting for your clippers.
- Have clipper oil, brush and blade wash to hand to keep your blades clean whilst clipping.
- Always bring a spare change of clothes you will end up wearing most of your horse's coat that has been clipped.
Top tip: for those who don't have batteries back clippers tire for string to the ceiling or on a D ring on the side of a wall to keep the wire off the floor and prevent it being trodden on. Prep for your horse 7 easy steps to transform your horse back to their usual smart sleek self.
- Make sure they are clean and dry. Having a dirty horse with making clipping a lot harder and will blunt your blades a lot quicker.
- If your horse doesn't like standing for a long period of time have a haynet at hand or feed them before you start.
- Are you at a yard pick? Pick your time wisely. Clipping when other horses are coming in or going out from the field make cause a distraction.
- The Great British weather is unpredictable stay undercover with good lighting.
- Start by marking out the clip with chalk if it's your first clip of the year and need a line to follow.
- Have a soft body brush to hand to brush the coat away once clipped.
- Finally have a clean rug to have to put over your horse either during clipping and after.
Top tip to remember? When clipping your horse remember to check and make sure the blades are not getting too hot. If so turn them off oil them up and wait for them to cool before starting again.
For the nervous Nellies For those who have a nervous nellie for a 1st timer we have some tips to help you combat the clipping process and help them on their way:
- Run the clippers over the your or nervous horse switched off a few time a day on the run up to the day you want to clip
- Once they are happy with this try turning them on and placing them on their shoulder to allow the to feel and hear the clippers.
- If they are struggling with this place your hand under the clippers so they feel minimum vibrations.
- Always start with an easy clip to gain their confidence such as a bib clip.
- Make sure they have a positive experience so they gain more confidence for the next time.
There are also a range of calmer you can give a horse/pony for their first time being clip to make the process more relaxful for you and them. NAF Magic Calming Supplement Powder
You can also ask you vet for sedalin if you feel that you may need something stronger for their first time.
Types of clips for your Horse/Pony
Full Clip - All of the coat is removed including, head, legs and ears. However you can adapt this for horses that are sensitive around the face and only clip half of the face (clipping up to their cheek bone where the bridle sits). This clip will leave them with little protection and warmth so make sure you have the appropriate rug wear. For horses that are prone to mud fever consider not clipping the legs. A full clip should be done on horses that are in full work or competition work.