Clip or not to clip, what do you think?
There is a lot of debate around the subject and we wondered what our followers thought about the subject. It all depends on how much you plan to ride your horse during the cold and frosty days.
This layer is Mother Nature’s way of providing horses with the protection they need to survive during winter, without the need to put an extra blanket over your horse. However, this extra thick coat inhibits their ability to “fluff” themselves up to keep warm and in some cases, can actually make them feel colder. Depending upon your plans for winter riding, this could be good news or bad news.
Some people say it’s a good idea to clip where your horse will sweat when you ride it during winter as the horse grows an extra winter coat which is then harder to dry and therefore can make the horse cold. We’re back to the blanket issue!
Others say you should allow a horse’s coat to grow naturally through the fall, and he’ll grow hair capable of protecting him through most winter conditions. Horses do need some sort of shelter to protect them from the combined forces of wind coupled with rain or snow.
Here at Ross Dhu, we believe that you should only clip where necessary and for practical purposes only, not for show. There are some amazingly skilled people out there who can transform their horses into “zebras”, “giraffes”, or an artists palette with some pretty skilled clipping techniques, but this is not really for the horse’s benefit.
If you do rug your horse and their coat is pretty thin then, depending on how you keep your horse (stabled or field kept), it is possible to work him pretty hard without clipping him. Remember if you cut off their hair then they will be burning up extra calories just to keep warm and this might be a problem with horses who struggle to keep weight on in the winter. On the other hand, if you have a horse who is weight challenged (a bit on the round side) then you could be ruthless and clip off a substantial amount of hair then not over rug (no rug indoors and only a light rain sheet outdoors) so that they do burn off their fat reserves to keep warm.
If your horse is unclipped and you work them hard and they sweat up, you can put them away with a “cooler” or “waffle” or “fleece” rug which will wick the moisture away from the horse whilst still keeping him warm. If you are on full livery then the staff can check the horse later to ensure he is dry before taking the rug off or you can leave them overnight with this thin rug. The only down side is you need to be very thorough in your grooming to make sure that his skin stays healthy and doesn’t become encrusted with sweat etc.
You might have a horse who struggles to keep weight on but has such a thick coat that they are sweating up quickly while being worked and becoming uncomfortable. In this case you would perhaps clip only those areas most likely to heat up and leave a covering of hair along his top line , legs and quarters. You could clip with:-
- Bib – only the front of the chest and up the neck to the jawline, ideal for horses that live out but are worked or for youngsters or remedial horses who have clipping issues.
- Low Chaser – Only the neck, chest and lower half of the belly are clipped leaving a diagonal line from their flank to their jaw.
- High Chaser – As above but much higher up the sides of the horse and of course you can also clip half the face (we never clip the full face and this is rarely covered by rugs so needs the hair for protection).
- Trace – This is similar to the High Chaser but clips the hair off of the hind quarters following the straight line of the chaser clip along the body. This can be done with no clip to the head or half a head.
- Hunter – This is most of the body hair clipped away leaving just a patch in the shape of a numnah on their back and the legs with hair. This can be done with a half or full face clip.
- Full – This is all of the hair removed (no patch on the back) and can also include the legs being clipped but legs can be left on and with a half or full face.
There are other clips which are variants on the above but think long and hard about whether you need to clip your horse and only do what is necessary. Clipping can be frightening for a horse if they are not trained or prepared correctly so take the time to do prep work and don’t leap straight in with the clippers. Get someone who is trained to help you or to do the clip and make sure you follow the manufacturers guidelines for care of the clippers when in use and when stored.
As always, if you are in any doubt about any of our top tips for keeping your horse healthy and save over the winter period. Then please do drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call Morag on 01698 886 492 and we will be more than happy to provide advice and guidance.