When Should You Clip Your Horse?

Clipping a Horse

In the fall, horses grow their winter coats, and although they look adorable, if you are riding your horse regularly, you will need to clip it. When you ride horses with their winter coats, they can sweat, and it is very hard for them to dry. This can cause them to get a chill, which can lead to sickness. Clipping is safer for your horse, and it will make grooming a lot easier as well.

Why People Clip Horses

The primary reason why people clip horses is to ride them in the winter without causing them to sweat excessively and then have trouble drying. Show horses are clipped all year round because their workload is high, and they need to be clipped to function at the top level of their sport. However, any horse that is getting regular exercise in the winter will need to be clipped at some point.

When a horse has a winter coat and is not clipped, it will sweat more than a clipped horse. This sweat will stay on the horse as moisture, which will be made cold by the cold temperatures. The horse will then have trouble warming up and regulating its temperature. 

In addition, it is a lot quicker and easier to groom a clipped horse. When they have a winter coat, they might roll in the mud, which then becomes caked on the horse’s hair. It can take quite some time to curry it and remove it. If your horse becomes damp, it will be even harder to groom the hair and get the sweat out.

The Best Time to Clip Horses

This will really vary depending on what kind of work your horse does and its breed, as well as its individual characteristics. Some horses grow thick wooly coats in September or October, and others only grow a fine coat of more hair over the winter. You need to assess your horse’s coat and determine what is best for your horse. Many show horses are clipped every three to six weeks all year round. This keeps them comfortable and allows them to do their job and look the part at the same time.

Most people generally clip their horses in September or October. It is still warm enough outside for the horse to acclimate to being clipped at this time of the year. If you clip your horse in September, you will probably need to clip their hair again every four to six weeks because horses grow coats very quickly during this time. You may wonder why you shouldn’t just wait until January, but the reality is that if you are riding your horse regularly, you need to clip them in the fall.

Questions to Ask Yourself before Clipping

It is a good idea to consider the following questions before you clip your horse:

  • Has the horse been clipped before?

  • Will the horse live in the barn or outside?

  • How hard is the horse working?

  • How much does the horse sweat?

  • What blankets do you have?

If you are undecided about clipping, these questions can help you determine what is best for your particular horse. 

How to Get Your Horse Ready to Be Clipped

There are many things that you can do to get your horse ready to be clipped. You should try to bathe your horse the day before you clip them so their hair is clean and dry. When you are ready to clip, make sure that you feed your horse first. Don’t decide to start clipping right before dinner or while other horses are being fed. 

Make sure that you find the right spot in the barn, away from the wind and the outdoors. Finally, make sure that you have your horse’s blanket ready because it will probably be necessary soon after you clip them.

What Kind of Clips Are There?

There are many different ways to clip your horse. You need to determine which one is best for your horse considering how you use the horse and where it lives. Take a look at the following types of clips:

  • Full Body Clip: Clips the entire horse, including its head and ears.

  • Hunter Clip: Leaves hair where saddle goes and on the legs for added warmth.

  • Blanket Clip: Leaves a blanket of hair from the withers to the tail, and leaves hair on the legs.

  • Trace Clip: Leaves hair on the neck, head, legs, and back of the horse.

  • Irish Clip: Removes hair from the neck and armpits where the horse sweats the most

Other Options

All horses grow a winter coat in the fall, but at varying rates with varying hair types. The truth of the matter is that you should clip your horse when it needs to be clipped, no matter what time of year it is. Depending on your horse’s breed, age, and hair type, you may need to clip them earlier or later, and the frequency will be determined by this factor as well.

If you don’t ride your horse and it lives outside in the cold winter months, you won’t need to clip it at all. However, you may live in a warmer climate, and even if you don’t ride your horse, you will need to clip it. It is important to note that horses begin to grow their coats as the days grow shorter, not as a result of coldness. This fact means that horses in warm winter climates, even when out of work, will grow a coat and may need to be clipped.

If you do clip your horse, make sure that you have blankets to keep them warm, whether in the barn or in the paddock. Keep an eye on your horse, and make sure that you repeat your clipping as needed. If you don’t want to clip your horse again in the spring, you may need to spend extra time with a curry to prevent the coat from growing back in full.