By Emma Ford
World Class Grooming
It’s that time of year when decisions need to be made about whether to leave your horse in his natural winter state or should some coat be removed to allow for his best winter care possible. So why might we clip? You need to ask yourself a few questions to make your decision.
How much work is your horse in?
What’s his living arrangement? Does he have a stall, or does he live out 24/7?
Do you have the time and means to correctly blanket according to weather changes?
Where do you live? A horse living in Florida has different needs than one living in Vermont for the winter.
Once you have the answers to these questions then you must decide on what type of clip will best suit you and your horse’s needs. Here is a quick overview of the four most basic clips you can do.
The Trace Clip. Suitable for horses in work that do not sweat excessively. Removing just the neck and belly allows the horse to cool off but maintain warmth without numerous blankets. The clip can be taken as high or low as best suited to your individual needs. If your horse lives out 24/7 then a low clip keeps all his extremities, back and hindquarters warm. Should your horse sweat a lot you can do a higher trace, so it takes less time for him to dry after a hard workout.
The Blanket Clip. I like this clip for horses that still get a lot of turn out through the winter months and are in moderate to heavy work. You remove hair from half the face, all the neck and the belly region. The coat across the back and hindquarters remains. It does require more blanketing than a trace however if you pleasure ride, hunt or take lessons in the more northern regions of the US then this clip allows horses to cool out but keeps their backs warm whilst riding out in the cold.
The Hunter Clip. This clip removes all their coat apart from their legs. You can choose whether to clip their entire heads or just clip half their heads. In the colder climates I prefer to leave half their heads clipped so their ears are protected from extreme cold conditions when turnout and working. This clip needs a definite blanketing program according to your horses living situation and regional location.
The Full Clip. As its name suggest you remove all the coat, legs, body and head. For horses living in the south, doing heavy work or are showing through the winter, this clip takes a lot of time and management to ensure the horse remains the correct temperature and maintains a healthy skin and coat.
Preparing your horse to Clip
If possible, bathe your horse before clipping. My go to routine is a shampoo bath with Shapleys Hi Shine shampoo, using a good curry (I love the HandsOn Gloves), to really scrub the coat and lift the dirt up to the surface. The cleaner the horse the easier and better the clip. Your blades will also appreciate less dirt to grind thru! Once I’ve rinsed out the shampoo, I add a ¼ cup of Shapleys No.1 Oil to a bucket of hot water and sponge this all over the horse. The oil produces a slick surface that the blades can move thru efficiently. After scraping I towel dry the horse and blanket with coolers accordingly until the horse is completely dry.
Should you not be able to bathe your horse you can prep him by giving him a good curry to lift the dirt and then wipe him over with witch hazel to help remove it. You can then either towel bathe him with a bucket of warm water and adding the Shapleys No 1 Oil or you can apply Shapleys Magic Sheen thru his coat by spraying it on and rubbing it in with a towel. Either method helps to provide that slicker coat for the blades to move through.
Allowing yourself enough time to clip is the number one piece of advice I can give people that do not clip on a regular basis. You never want to be in a rush, this can create a stressful environment for the horse as well as an unsafe one for you both. Always pay attention to your clipper blades. Make it a habit of checking the temperature and oiling the blades every 5 minutes. If blades are too hot you can burn the horse, oil aids in keeping the motor cool throughout the clipping session.
After Clipping Care
If possible, bathe your horse after clipping to remove the clipping oil that can irritate the horse’s skin if left on. I will finish by adding a rinse made up of warm water and Shapleys Natural Elegance Moisturizer to aid in producing a finished natural glow to the coat. Again, if bathing is not an option, take a towel and bucket of warm water that has witch hazel and a drop of Shapelys No 1 Oil added to it and thoroughly towel off all the clipped areas.
I hope these few tips help you produce a well clipped horse! Happy Clipping!