Monday, 20 September 2010

Quick Tips for Clipping your Horse

Top Tips for Clips:
  • Get used to feel and weight of the clippers before starting.
  • If you are a beginner it makes sense to start with a horse that is well behaved.
  • With a horse being clipped for the first time, start with shoulders/neck to allow them to get used to the clippers in a less sensitive area.
  • Use a small pair of clippers that make less noise. Introduce the horse to the feel of the clippers over a period of a few days by placing them on the coat but not actually cutting any hairs, let them get used to the noise.
  • With a horse used to clipping start with the head as they can get bored.
  • Make sure your clippers are well maintained with blades that are sharp to avoid pulling the hair.
  • Make sure the clippers do not get too hot and carry out regular oiling of the blades.
  • Thoroughly groom your horse before clipping and remove any grease and mud.
  • Put a bandage on the tail to prevent long hair getting in the way. Plait mane and forelock if needed.
  • Use a piece of chalk or saddle soap to get straight lines. A numnah that is normally used can be used as a template to get the shape and position right when carrying out a Hunter Clip.
  • Run the clippers against the lie of the coat. Make sure you have all the equipment to hand before starting with the horse, groomed and in a head collar.
  • Long smooth strokes help to avoid the appearance of tram-lines with the natural lines of the coat followed and the blades moving in the right direction.
  • Keep a rug close by to partially cover the horse to keep them warm while you continue the clip.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Clipping your Horse

Nature allows horses to evolve their coats to suit changing seasons and climates, i.e. their coats will grow thicker in winter to help them cope with colder weather. Renewal is a natural way of keeping horses and ponies coats in good health and condition.

It seems strange, then, to clip that nice warm coat - just to replace it with a rug! But clipping is an important part of horse management, especially for competition horses. Because of the relationship between humans and horses, their thick winter coat is usually no longer required; many horses are now stabled during the winter and, together with concentrated feeds and artificial heating, can result in the animal becoming overheated. Many horses are now clipped in order to prevent such situations.

Overheating can cause many problems for horses, just as for humans, and it is difficult to keep a horse in good condition if there is excessive sweating.

Horses could also catch a chill if a thick coat takes a long time to dry after exercise, etc.; the coat can be difficult to groom and may become matted or cause skin infections.

Clipping can make it easier to inspect the horse's skin when grooming. This should be a daily check. Thick coat hair provides ideal conditions for bacteria to thrive, so clipping can prevent medical conditions from occurring.

When to Clip 

In the UK and similar climates, clipping usually occurs in October as this is when the weather begins to get cold and the growth in the winter coat is just beginning. By coincidence(?), the start of the hunting season begins in October and the horse needs to be fit for the hunt.

A second clip may be required in December and, again, lightly in February. Clipping will, of course, depend on the rate of growth, the weather and the specific horse. Most books advise not to clip after February.

Use your own judgement or that of a someone with experience when deciding if and when to clip, to be of highest benefit your horse. The timings and style of clip should never be a copycat exercise just because someone else you know has already done it.

Types of Clips
  • Full clip - Total removal of all coat including legs and face. Used with many hunters and eventers.
  • Hunter - Removal of all coat except legs and saddle patch.
  • Blanket - Coat left in legs and wither to tail. Extends halfway down sides. Keeps loins and kidneys warm for horses that are in turnout.
  • Chaser - The coat is left on top half of neck and body.
  • Trace  - Top part of coat and legs and head is left on. Good for horses in medium work or those that are turned out a lot.
  • Bib - Neck and belly coat removed. Good for light work that causes a little sweat but still needs some coat protection.