Clipping in winter allows a horse to be worked in comfort, as a horse’s winter coat is designed for insulation to keep the horse warm against the harsh cold and wet winter conditions. When a horse has a winter coat and is worked, the coat becomes soaked in sweat making it heavy and taking a long time to dry out – the winter coat is not designed for cooling down the horse!
Clipping shortens your horses coat to around the length it is in summer – this allows quicker evaporation of sweat and less time grooming, but unfortunately means that during the cold months, it is important to rug your horse well at all times to make sure they stay warm! At Ebony Park, we try and keep our horses rugged all year round, keeping them especially warm during winter, as this generally allows us to avoid having to clip the coats of our purebreds – rugging them makes sure the coats stay short all winter! However, there are times when nature takes is course, and the coats of our horses start getting too long, and clipping is then our savior!!
Not all of us need or want to do the full body clip – if you have no stable or your horse is not in full work there are variations of clipping patterns which will allow your horse to work in comfort and still stay warm in the paddock with the use of an extra rug or two. At Ebony Park we use the clip that suits the type of work, and the conditions that we can supply for our horses – some of them are stabled, and some of them are out in paddocks, some in heavy work, and some only lightly worked!
If you decide to go with a trace clip (where not all of the hair is clipped off along the top of the body), our tip is to draw a chalk line of the pattern on the horse so that it is even before you begin clipping.
When you decide to clip your horse, make sure the horse has been washed clean, and is fully dry before you begin. A clean horse is less likely to get those tell tale clip lines. Freshly sharpened blades for each horse also give a cleaner and neater clip.
Make long strokes with the clippers, overlapping each stroke with the next, Always work against they lay of the hair, and use fairly firm, even pressure.
It would be an absolute disaster if we accidentally clipped the lovely long manes of our Friesian stallions, so to help protect the mane from being clipped, we divide the mane into sections (the manes of our stallions are always plaited which helps!) and hold that section out of the way as we get close to it.
Once our horses have been clipped, we brush them with a soft brush to remove any hair that is hanging around after being clipped off.
On the purebreds that are hopefully not needing to be clipped, we generally only clip around their faces and feet. Friesians grow lovely long beards, especially in the winter, and we like to make their faces look neat. To do this, we use a smaller set of clippers to trim under their chins and to clip the inside and edges of their ears. We also neaten up their feet by straightening their feathers when they come over the hoof, and making sure the feathers are not too long and stay neat at the back coming from their fetlocks.
When we ride our clipped horses on a cold day, we make sure to put a woolen rug or quarter sheet over the back end of the horse while we are warming up to make sure they stay warm!
Tips when clipping a horse:
- Start with a clean horse! Dirty horses tend to make the clipping messy and dull the blades of the clippers faster!
- Make sure the blades are sharp and well lubricated – dull blades mean a messier clip – and it takes much longer too
- Make sure your horse is secure – cross tie him or get a helper to make sure your horse stays still while you are clipping so that your clipping stays neat!
- Ensure you have plenty of time to clip your horse and don’t rush – this makes the job neater as after clipping you want your horse to look like it hasn’t actually been clipped, only that the hair is short!
- Keep the blades parallel to the skin, as this makes you less likely to nick your horses skin with them as you clip!
- Clip away from the way the hair lays on the horse, as this makes a neater and more even result.