It is that time of year, shorter days and cooler weather means our horses are growing their winter coats – seemingly overnight! And the discussion begins…
“Do you think I should clip him?”
“What kind of clip do you think I should do?”
“I wonder if he will let me clip his ears this year.”
For us in the Pacific North West, or Wet Coast as we sometimes joke, it is pretty hard (but not impossible) to get away without clipping. The reason for us is that the days get shorter, and it also gets cooler and wetter. Even on the days where it isn’t raining, it is still damp. Everything is damp, all the time. So it makes horses with longer hair prime candidates for clipping. This is because any amount of sweat will just NOT dry, especially if you ride in the late afternoon or evening. The temp drops a few degrees and the moisture in the air is heavy, so your horse is sweaty but cools down too quickly evaporate the sweat and dry.
You might get lucky without having to clip if you ride during the day and can put on a fleece to keep them warm and wick up the sweat before blanketing. These horses I don’t clip, as long as the long hair doesn’t get in the way of regular work. Sometimes they just have too much hair to be able to work at a high level without overheating.
If you decide you need to clip, the clipping choices are endless. I like to get away with the least clipping necessary to get the job done. Trace clips, or just half of the neck sometimes are enough. Remember your horse’s hair is there for a reason, to protect him from the elements. It keeps them warm and for the most part is water resistant, keeping the moisture off the skin. But wet, sweaty hair can’t operate properly to protect your horse from the elements.