To Clip Or Not to Clip
You’ve probably seen some horses that look like shaggy hair monsters in the wintertime. Others, though, still look slick and shiny. If you’ve ever noticed someone at the barn with a heavy-duty pair of clippers in-hand, engulfed by a cloud of horse hair, there’s your answer.
Horse body clipping involves shaving a horse’s thick winter coat off in strategic areas where sweat typically gathers most. Clipping is especially popular choice for riders who continue training in colder temperatures and need their horses to dry quicker post-exercise.
Should You Clip Or Not?
Body clipping is always optional, and most riders don’t bother. Sometimes horses are given several months off over the winter season, so there’s no point. Other times, horses are ridden more lightly, so they don’t wind up sweating that much either.
So how do you know whether clipping is something you should consider? Lets’s go over some of the pros and cons.
Pros of Body Clipping
- Your horse can dry more quickly after exercise.
- You spend less time grooming and dealing with shedding hair.
- It gives your horse a sleeker appearance.
- It helps prevent chills or other health issues that can stem from a wet, sweaty coat.
- Your horse is less likely to get rain rot or other skin conditions.
Cons of Body Clipping
- You have to keep your horse blanketed carefully, which means more time and effort on your part.
- Horse blankets can be costly and require ongoing maintenance (e.g. rip repair, waterproofing).
- If you can’t borrow from a friend, you’ll need to purchase and maintain horse clippers — or pay someone else to clip your horse for you.
The Spook Factor
If you have a more sensitive horse, the sound of electric clippers, alone, may be a no-go. If you can’t get within ten feet of your horse once it hears clippers turn on, trying to proceed likely isn’t worth the trouble.
Instead, spend this winter slowly desensitizing your horse to clippers. Next winter, you can try again!
If you ride much less during the winter (e.g. once a week for an hour), you don’t need to body clip. Let your horse grow its natural winter coat, and leave it be.
On the other hand, if you continue training consistently year-round, clipping may save you a ton of time.
If your horse lives in a stall with minimal turnout, he needs less hair because he doesn’t have to brave the elements outdoors.
That said, if your horse lives outside 24/7, you need to be much more careful about temperature, hair coverage, and blanketing.
Every person sweats differently, and the same is true with our horses.
Some horses become drenched with sweat within five minutes of riding. Others walk out of a hard workout with only a glisten. Body clipping is designed for “heavy sweaters.”
If you decide to body clip your horse, you need to have a blanketing plan. Clipped horses require intentional blanketing during cool/cold weather to offset their decreased ability to keep themselves warm with a full winter coat.
Not sure how to blanket a clipped horse? Chat with your trainer or barn manager.
Whether you clip your horse or not, it’s worth getting a nice cooler. Coolers are designed to help wick away moisture and decrease drying time post-exercise.
Watch this video to see body clipping in action:
Ready to Try Horse Clipping?
The next step is to buy some quality clippers. Here are the horse body clippers we recommend:
|Brand/Model||Rookie Rating||Ideal Usage||Cord||Speeds||Where to Buy|
|Andis AGC2 Super 2-Speed Clipper||Best Overall Horse Clippers||
||16 ft||Two||See at Amazon|
|Oster Variable Speed Clipmasters||Best Horse Clippers for Thick Hair||
||15 ft||Variable||See at Amazon|
|Wahl Professional Animal Arco Equine 5-in-1 Cordless Horse Clipper||Best Cordless Horse Clippers||
||N/A||Single||See at Amazon|
|Double K Industries Groomer’s Edge Power Clipper 401||Best Heavy Duty Horse Clippers||
||5-7 ft||Variable||See at Amazon|
|Wahl Show Pro Plus||Best Budget Horse Clippers||
||8 ft||Single||See at Amazon|
Frequently Asked Questions
How to not cut a horse with clippers?
It’s pretty hard to cut a horse with clippers (provided you’re using clippers designed for a horse). The biggest issue with clipping comes from heat and pressing clippers that are too hot against your horse’s coat or skin.
Maintain steady, even pressure and pull the horse’s skin flat with your hand where needed. Give the clippers a break every five minutes using a coolant or spray. Every thirty minutes or so, give your horse a break by walking him around. Don’t forget to reward him with treats, as clipping is a long process for him, too.
How do I stop my horse from getting clipper lines?
You’ll need well-lubricated and sharp blades, coolant, and a brush. Each stroke of the clippers should go against the grain of your horse’s coat. Make the strokes as long as possible to help reduce track lines.
You can also overlap each stroke a bit to catch any hair you may have missed. After each cutting stroke, use the brush on your clippers (lightly) and on your horse’s coat to remove any stray pieces of hair.
Give your clippers plenty of breaks (every five minutes is good. Use this time to turn them off and apply coolant). As clippers overheat, they become less efficient, and you’re more likely to leave behind lines.
The nice thing about body clipping is that there’s no right or wrong answer.
Your horse can stay healthy and happy whether you decide to clip or not, as long as you adjust the rest of their shelter and/or blanketing to accommodate.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
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