Clipping Techniques and Concerns

The crisp mornings and darker nights are the signs that Christmas is on the way. This week has been a busy week getting the rugs out for the horses and planning the clipping of the horses.

The perfect time of year to clip is as the summer draws to an end and the temperature at night drops. The horse’s coats start to look dull as it grows into their winter coat. You can clip your horse several times through the winter months as and when is needed. You need to make sure the last clip is around January / February, so that the summer coat can come through properly.

It is important to know why we clip our horses. Nature intended for the horses to live outdoors in the fields all year round, hence why they grow a thick coat in the colder months of the year which helps protect them from the elements. If the coat grows too thick it can cause distress when you are exercising them. The horse will find it difficult to keep their condition and will mean that it will take them longer to dry out after been ridden. Therefore, the most common reasons for clipping the horses is so that they will be more comfortable being exercised, without sweating too much. Other reasons for clipping are:

  • Conserving energy by reducing sweating during exercise

  • Maintains a better level of fitness

  • Smarter looking horses

If your horse is working regularly during the winter months, it’s advisable to keep them clipped to the level that suits the horses work schedule. Good stabling and plenty of rugs help compensate for removing the horses coat.

You get a better clip when your horse is clean, so before you clip its important to make sure the horse has been bathed properly to ensure that all the dirt and grease has been washed away. You will get a better clip if the horse is clean, as the clippers will move better through the fur and the clipper blade stays sharper for longer. Also, a useful tip when clipping, is to plait the horse’s mane as you’ll find it a lot easier to clip with it out of the way. The same with the tail, if you plait and bandage it up and out of the way, its one less thing to worry about while you are clipping.

Make sure that you have a rug ready to put on your horse after you’ve finished clipping as your horse will soon notice the difference.

If you are clipping a nervous or a young horse, its advisable to wear your hat.

When you have picked the clip, you would like your horse to have, you can use chalk to draw guidelines on your horse to follow. If you are leaving half a head, its wise to put your bridle on first so that you get the correct line. If you are leaving the legs on, mark out an inverted V at the top of the front legs and a line above the back legs towards the stifle, as this will help define the leg muscles on your horse. It is also helpful to mark out an Inverted V shape above the tail.

It is normally recommended that you start clipping from the shoulder and work your way up the neck and then across the body. However, if this is the first time you are clipping it maybe a better idea to start somewhere inconspicuous area like under the belly, just in case you have a couple of bad runs. Always clip in long continuous strokes and overlap each run to avoid tram lines. You can tidy up straight lines by clipping at a 90-degree angle with short strokes. You can also turn the clippers on their side so that the blades will cut neatly along the jagged edge. When clipping the head, start from the groove under the chin and work towards the throat, against the grain of the hair ad then move on to the cheek and up the face. The face is a very sensitive so great care should be taken while clipping around your horses’ ears, eyes and nose. It maybe a good idea to use a smaller trimmer.

There are many different types of clip you can give your horse. Some of these include:

  • Under Belly and the neck – this is usually called a bib. This is a good clip for horses that are in light work, that live out during the winter months.

  • The Blanket Clip – This is an ideal clip of horses that are in regular work. The coat is removed completely from the head, neck and flanks, leaving only the legs and an area over the back that looks like a small rug.

  • The full clip – this is an ideal clip of competition horses or horses that are in hard work. The whole coat is taken off apart from the inverted V shape above the tail.

When you have finished clipping your horse, give them a quick brush off to get rid of any loose hairs and make sure to rug them up well.

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