When to clip and why?


This week is clipping week at Tidy Tack Rooms. So each day i am going to do a blog covering a different clipping area.  In today’s blog i am going to cover when to clip and why. I did used to do professional clipping so i do have some experience in this area. So i will be basing this blog on what i have learned, my opinion and products that i have tried and tested. So clipping is a very personal thing and depends on many factors:

why we clip:

  1. They get too hot when working: this can apply in summer as well as winter. The difference is, in summer you can wash the horse off and leave them to dry naturally either in the field or the stable. However in winter you cannot do this, because if we leave the horse wet they will catch a chill, so we have to wait for them to dry before rugging up or turning back out. This takes ages and also a hairy horse that has sweated a lot is very smelly, gets matted hair and is probably quite uncomfortable. So if you ride a lot in winter and your horse gets sweaty it is advisable to clip them. If your horse has a thick summer coat, cobs and natives tend to, then you can clip in summer too, to prevent them overheating. Again a thick sweaty coat is not comfortable, and being too hot is also not good for a horses health. Most competition and show horses are now clipped all year round.
  2. Because its easier to groom: Short hair is much easier to brush. It does not get matted from sweat, nor clumped with mud. It is also easier to brush dust and scurf out of a short coat.
  3.  Veterinary reasons: This could be due to a skin condition such as lice, sweet itch, ring worm etc, or for surgery or injections, or even due to a condition such as Cushings or EMS. Whatever the reason make sure you follow your vets advice about clipping and maintaining your horses recovery or condition.
  4. For competing or showing: If you show a non traditional cob then you are probably very familiar with clipping, i used to do my boy every 3 – 4 weeks. I have also found that when you clip out white bits – legs, facial markings, patches on a coloured, they clip out very white, as most of the stains are removed along with the longer hair. So i would clip out my boys white bits on his hocks and knees the day before a show, so they were super white. I did his body and the rest of his legs about 7 days before. Most competition and show horses are now clipped all year round. With competition horses it helps keep them cool when they are working so hard, and again they tend to remain in consent work  throughout the year, so need their winter coats off. Some also compete abroad in hotter countries, or in indoor arenas which can get hot under the lights.
  5. To cope with mud in winter: Lets be honest mud is one of the most depressing things about winter. Especially this time of year when there is a lot of it about. Horse for some reason LOVE mud. They actively seek out the mud and roll in it, some even make a concerted effort to get mud in places, that just should not have mud in. So if you have a hairy horse getting all that mud out is a nightmare. You have to wait for it dry to a crust and then chip it off, at which point it relocates on to you, and you have a gritty mouth and sore eyes – for the rest of winter. Plus hairy legs (horses, not yours) can get mud balls on them, which can end up ripping the hair out, or clacking together when they walk. Short hair is much easier to keep to clean, plus once clipped you can cover the horse head to tail in rugs. Although most of them find a way to get the mud under the rug, or worse take the rug off!!!
  6. So we dont have hair everywhere in moulting season: its approaching, the season where from the waist up everything is covered in hair, and from the waist down everything is covered in mud. Known to non horsey people as spring. Now horses loose their coat based on a variety of factors, one of which is the amount of daylight hitting the retina, so as the days get longer, the coat gets looser. Whilst there is something deeply satisfying about brushing handfuls of hair off, to reveal a beautiful summer coat underneath, the rest of moulting is not so rewarding. The hair gets everywhere, and i mean everywhere. Clothes, car, house, bed………. Everywhere, so clipping before moulting does prevent this, and stops you from being mistaken for a Yeti when not at the yard.
  7. Because we prefer them clipped: In my opinion there is nothing more smart and beautiful than a well clipped horse. Dont get me wrong i love a good traditional cob, especially when it belongs to someone else – because i could not cope with the maintenance of all that hair. All those owners out there who maintain your hairies, i salute you. But i am firmly on team clipping for my own horses.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       When we Clip?                                                                                                                                                                                                                            ‘is it too late to clip now’?                                                                                                                                                                                                   This is a very hotly debated area, and everyone has their own personal opinion on it. Some believe that if you clip after Valentines day the summer coat will be ruined. Others believe you are fine up the end of March, and some people clip all year round. The theory behind it is that if you clip after the summer coat comes through you are clipping the ends off the summer coat and it will look blunt and dull. so you have to clip before the summer coat comes through. Now whilst all this is true, the horses summer coat does still grow – hence why some people clip all year round, especially Cob owners. So clipping will leave the hair looking blunt initially – same as when we go to the hairdressers for a cut, until it starts to grow out a bit. Also the coat MAY look duller, because it is the oils in the horses coat that make it shiny, and we have just shaved off all that coat, on some horses though the underneath hair is gleaming. However both of these things will look much better a few days after clipping, when the hair has grown slightly and the oils returned.  If you are clipping in the warmer months i would advise clipping out the whole horse, including legs and head, because you will still see clip lines in a summer coat. The reason why you clip will determine when you clip and what type of clip to do. Tomorrows topic will look at the different types of clip.

If you decide you want your horse clipped and are not confident doing it yourself. There are plenty of professionals out there who offer this service, and if you only clip once or twice a year, it can be a much cheaper option then buying and maintaining your own clippers and blades. Professionals are also very good and experienced with nervous or fidgety horses too. Sometimes if you have a nervous horse it can help them if you are holding them and reassuring them, whilst someone else is clipping, as they will already know and trust you. If you are going for a professional please ensure they have insurance that covers your horse as well as themselves, in the event of an accident, and remember to ask for references and pictures of previous work. Good professionals are worth their weight in gold and can be the difference between your horse having a good clipping experience or a really bad one.

In short it is your horse and your decision on why you do, or don’t, clip and when. Everyone will have their own opinion and it can get very confusing. However always remember the difference between a good clip and a bad clip is about 10 days.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s blog and will continue to check in over the week for the rest of them. In the future ones i will be covering clipping tips and equipment, as well as types of clip.

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