…that is the question many of us are asking ourselves as the weather begins to get colder (in between shrieks and wails every time we step outside in short sleeves and get goosebumps). Like everything else in the horse world, there is more than one school of thought on this, and more than one way of doing it, if you choose.
For one thing, it will depend on your horse and his living conditions going into winter. Where we are in central Kentucky, some horses are already developing a really thick coat, while others are clearly growing in a new hair pattern but they’re not too wooly yet. Whether or not the horse stays inside for the coldest part of the day, and whether they’ve been wearing sheets the past few weeks could partially influence this, although the change in coat length is more commonly thought to coincide with changes in day length.
If you plan to limit your riding to a few bouts of light work during wintertime, and your horse is going to live outdoors unblanketed, it might be better to skip the clippers. If you’re going to remain in training through the season though, and if you’re well-equipped with horse clothes to compensate for a shorter hair coat, it might be worth considering.
A full or partial clip can help the horse cool off faster–when they sweat into a longer coat, it becomes more difficult for the heat and moisture to move away from the skin, slowing the cool-down process and running the risk of a chill. There are several clip patterns that are used for horses in different types of work, many of which leave longer hair on areas that don’t trap as much heat, or on legs for hunting/trail horses.
Take a look at the different patterns:
If you’re like us, you might be tempted to do a little neatening of your horse’s whiskers or chin while you’ve got the clippers out anyway. If you do, remember that our grooming halters make this task easier by eliminating the chin piece, and also rinse clean of all that horse hair.
What have you got going on this weekend in the barn? Well, besides this excellent bridle sale, which you should take a look at, it might be time to do some serious fuzzscaping for your horse.
While we’ve had a few tastes of winter so far, it looks like this weekend will be a bit more mild for some parts of the country, so it’s a good time to get out to the barn and clip your horse if you haven’t already.
Every year it’s a debate for riders–to clip or not to clip? One of the things you may want to consider when making the decision besides the weather in your area is how often and how strenuously you’ll be working your horse during the colder months. A damp, sweaty coat takes a long time to dry out in the cold air, and if not done properly it can lead to chills. If you plan to blanket your horse through the winter anyway, it might be worth considering whether some form of a clip would be helpful.
If your horse lives outside unblanketed and gets the winter off, he may not need a clip.
The next step is to decide what style of clip best suits your horse’s workload. There is a huge range of patterns out there and no single style is right for every horse or discipline. Some of them even get creative. Whatever you choose, it’s a good idea to draw an outline on the horse in chalk (which should brush right out); try looking at the horse from the front to ensure that the lines are reaching the same points on the body on each side.
Be sure–and, we cannot stress this enough–to start with a clean horse. Dust and dander that hides close to the skin will get caught in the clipper blades, which could damage them at worst and at best clogs them up, creating a striped effect on the horse’s skin where ridges of hair weren’t trimmed evenly. It’s really hard to get these stripes even again although they do grow out eventually.
Pro Equine Grooms (which is a fantastic resource) has some great tips for keeping the experience safe for you and your horse. First and foremost–make sure to take the time to acclimate the horse to the clippers. You’ll get a cleaner line if your horse is willing to stay still for this task. Also, try working against the grain of the hair and make your strokes as long and even as possible. And don’t forget to keep oiling that clipper blade!
If you’re using a pattern that requires you to clip part of the face, or do a lot of grooming of the cheeks in general, you may want to consider a grooming halter, which has the throatlatch removed for easier access to the face. We’ve got some great ones that are really affordable (and come in cute colors).
As you may have noticed on our store, we’re all about dressing things up a little…turning the conventional into creative.
That could be why we love those clipping contests that are circulating Facebook these days–how do these people find the time, patterns, and clipper blades to pull some of these off? And more importantly, how patient are those horses??
If you love them as much as we do, check out the photos at this recent Eventing Nation post
and this forum thread. We love the stars. Which are your favorites?