Clipping – Is your horse ready for his first clip of the winter? Is he starting to look woolly? Has he started to sweat more than usual during his regular exercise sessions? If you find yourself pondering over any of these points, then it may be time to clip your horse.
If you own a pair of clippers be sure to get them serviced and your blades sharpened before using them for the after a period of not being in use.
Before you start clipping
Overalls are recommended, and have a piece of chalk at the ready. Most importantly ensure that you wear a hard hat that is up to the current safety standard.
There are a variety of different clips that you may opt for, the main ones are discussed here in further detail. However there are different and newer styles emerging slowly that also may become quite popular. Ultimately it is down to personal preference and what is most suitable for your horse. This can be decided depending upon, his workload, age and most importantly his reaction to clipping.
If your horse is in light work i.e hacking once or twice a week, or he lives out then the bib clip is recommended. This type of clip is also recommended for first time clipping or nervous horses. The aim of this type of clip is to remove the areas where the horse will sweat most when exercising. The underside of the neck, in between the front legs and under the stomach is clipped leaving the head, topside of the neck, body and legs for protection against the cold. It is personal preference whether the clip is taken across the lower shoulder.
The chaser clip is a suitable for horses in light work. This could include hacking and schooling for up to three or four times a week, it could also be suitable for horses that don’t tend to sweat too much and again for those horses that are nervous around clippers. This clip removes the coat in a straight line from behind the horse’s ears to the stifle. This leaves most of the underside of the neck and belly clipped. With adequate rugs, horses may be turned out as normal.
The trace clip can be adjusted to personal preference, depending on how much hair you wish to leave on. The clip can be low, leaving more of the horses coat on or alternatively the line can be a made to a slightly higher level, leaving less of coat. The clip removes the coat from the underside of the neck and the entire underside of the belly. Dependent on the height you decide, a low trace would start in a similar place to the bib and the high trace clip would start at the same place as the chaser. The clip then runs in a straight line down the horse’s neck to the shoulder and then is run in a straight line along the horse’s body towards his tail. Upon reaching the stifle, a small arc is clipped where the hair grows different ways and then the straight line is carried on across the hind leg. When stood behind the horse the trace clip should run in a vertical line up towards the top of the tail- this should only be about an inch away from the tail. Again this clip can be used on horses that are turned out as long as they have adequate rugs to keep them warm and is suitable for horses in light to medium work.
The blanket clip is commonly used for horses and ponies in medium work including regular, low-level competing. The clip involves removing the horse’s coat from all of the neck and the underside of the belly. The clip line runs from the withers (just in front of the saddle) in a straight line down to the shoulder. At the midpoint of the shoulder, the clip then runs in a straight line towards the horse’s tail. At the stifle, a small arc is clipped as with the trace clip and carries on towards the tail. Similarly to the trace clip, when stood behind, the blanket clip should have a vertical line going up either side of the tail. This clip is best given to horses that are stabled at night as they have less protection on their neck.
The hunter clip is fairly straight forward and was originally designed for hunt horses. This clip is suitable for horses in hard and competitive work. This removes all hair apart from the saddle pad area and legs. Also a small triangle is left at the top of the tail. This allows protection for the legs whilst out hunting. This clip should only be given to stabled horses or horses that are stabled at night and during adverse weather conditions.
The full clip is recommended for horses and ponies in hard and competitive work. All of the horse’s coat is removed apart from the small triangle at the top of the tail. This includes the legs being clipped and is popular in the heavier breeds that are in a heavier workload.
The Horse’s Head
Clipping the horse’s head can be difficult. With all of the clips with the exception of the bib, it is personal preference about clipping the horse’s head. For the chaser, trace and blanket it is popular to clip a half head which involves the line running from behind the horses ear in a straight line down to his mouth and removing all of the coat on the underside. For the hunter and full clip it is more common to see the whole head clipped including the ears, leaving no coat on at all.
So you are probably wondering about the piece of chalk? It is a fab way to draw the clip lines on the horse before you start your clipping. Top tip: draw the chalk lines slightly lower than you want the clip to allow for any mistakes. We all make them! It’s now time for you to put your skills into practise and clip your beloved fluffy friend thus making those winter nights slightly easier and more comfortable for the pair of you!