Is it time for Horse Clipping?
As we pass into autumn and head quickly towards the clocks sliding back our horses and ponies start to shed their short summer coats and grow their nice thick winter woollies. This is great if they are just out in the field munching and not doing a lot else but if you plan to continue riding over the winter horse clipping is something to consider. Over the past couple of years here in the UK we haven’t even really been subjected to really cold winters either so it doesn’t even take hard and fast work for our furry friends to work up a sweat.
I read a blog post recently on Facebook from a blog called Equestrian Reality. The theme was old school or new school equestrian? It really is funny and the comments that followed talked about jute stable rugs and New Zealand outdoor rugs. It certainly brought back a few memories. The thread seemed to imply that today we get so hung up on whether we should or shouldn’t clip; rug or not rug; feed hard feed or forage. We seem to spend so much time procrastinating and researching what everyone else is doing instead of just getting on with the task in hand. I know I have been guilty of this, when I was younger I would have an idea and then either do it or not. Now I get distracted by someone telling me it’s not the right time or there’s a different way of doing it now instead of going with my gut instinct and just getting the job done.
Is there a horse clipping season?
Traditionally the horse clipping season began around September and ceased before the end of January. I was told that clipping after January would ruin the new coat coming through making it look dull. I’m not sure if this was just an old wives tale because 30 years on we clip our horses all year round especially those that are out competing. Not only that we take that entire coat, head and legs off so not a clip line can be seen. For those at high end training and competition and out every week it reduces that chance or equine friends getting a chill waiting for their sweaty coats to dry out.
I haven’t clipped either of mine for the past few years because I haven’t really done a lot with them over the winter so I haven’t seen the point. This year my plan is to clip them both before the end of January. As I won’t be clipping all year round I’m not going to risk ruining their summer coat. There are a couple of reasons behind my thinking apart from the fact both my Section A and Hanoverian produce thick long fur.
Reasons to Clip Your Horse or Pony
- Easier to keep clean and prevents the build up of scurff
- Your horse or pony will look smarter through the winter
- Veterans can hold onto their winter coats a bit longer, my Hanoverian now in his 20’s is guilty of this
- Natives have very thick long fluffy coats that take time to shed, this is the problem with my Section A
- To prevent excess sweating when exercising. I intend to be back in the saddle more regularly getting myself and them fit and having a bit of fun.
- Quicker drying time after exercise
What Type of Horse Clip Do I Choose?
Sticking with tradition and not some wacky design that makes your pony look like a tiger there probably six main clips.
- Full – as the name suggests, all hair is removed for body, head and legs
- Hunter – hair left on legs and saddle area
- Blanket – again as the name suggests it looks a bit like your horse has a blanket on
- Chaser – like a blanket but with the top of the neck left on
- Trace – like the chaser but only the front of the neck removed
- Irish – like the chaser but leave the hair on the quarters
- Bib – front of neck only
- Freestyle – just for a bit of fun, personally it’s not really my thing but the kids love this kind of “My Little Pony” design
In terms of clipping the head in my opinion it’s preference and knowing your own horse. I think a neatly trimmed head or half head is better than stressing or scaring your horse trying to get all the hair off. I am speaking from personal experience here. My big horse was a perfect gentleman to clip he just stood barely tied until one day after I had my first daughter I got someone to clip him for me. I asked her not to do his head as he wasn’t keen and he is also very big at 17.2hh. As he had practically slept through a full clip she said I’m sure he’ll be fine we’ll just go ahead and take the hair off the back of his jaw. I should have put my foot down as I know my own horse but I went with the flow. It was the biggest mistake ever as now he has to be sedated in order to clip him. This is even for small battery operated clippers. So use your instinct.
A few pointers before you start
- Wear old clothes, not fleece, waterproofs can be good as you can just hose them down after
- Give yourself plenty of time, it’s never good clipping in a rush
- Give your horse or pony a good brush to remove any mud and grime and make sure they are dry
- If you are clipping outside try for a day with as little wind as possible or you will end up with little hair tornadoes
- Oil your blades as you go
- It can be noisy and a bit boring so talk to your horse as you go to reassure them and keep them calm
- Make sure you have all the necessary rugs to keep your horse warm and comfortable whether you are planning on turning them out or keeping them in. Just as is for us layers are best
I think that is it, happy horse clipping. Share your designs whether it be traditional or new and funky.