Clipping is not just for winter. Depending on where you are, you might need to clip a few times during the year. Like anything in the horse world, there’s a lot of opinions floating around about clipping and what is best for your horse. Thankfully Sue Pallotta, from Clip Art Horse Clipping is here to help give away some of her tips and tricks for keeping your horse healthy and happy. Sue has been involved with horses her entire life and competes at a national level in dressage. She has traveled throughout North America for the standardbred and thoroughbred racing industries and has worked for an assortment of top breeding farms.
Now, I’m not sure about you, but I hate clipping. I love the extra bonding time with my horse, but sometimes I don’t have that time to spare and I’m usually itchy for days. I’m not alone in this sentiment, as there’s many who make their living clipping and grooming horses as professional equine groomers.
Why Should You Clip
There’s a lot of reasons to consider clipping your horse, according to Sue. You can clip to maintain better coat condition, to avoid excessive sweating and quick drying after exercises, various health reasons (be sure to consult your veterinarian to see if your horse needs help regulating hair growth and clipping could help), to enhance their ease of grooming and looks, and so on. Many people clip in the winter because when your horse sweats, it moves outward from the skin, and is likely to cause a chill in the cold weather if your horse isn’t properly cooled out. Additionally, during any time of the year, unclipped horses or horses with too much coat in heavy work are more likely to overheat.
There’s also a few reasons not to clip. Sue discourages people from clipping in the spring just to remove the winter coat, as your horse will benefit from the good grooming practices involved in shedding out. Clipping is also not an excuse to avoid grooming, if anything it should be used to add to your existing practices.
Your riding habits and climate will determine if your horse needs to be clipped. Not every horse needs to be clipped, while some horses are clipped like clockwork throughout the year. If you’re not sure if you should clip, consult your trainer or veterinarian to determine what is best for your horse.
Think Before You Clip
Make sure your horse’s coat is clean before clipping! “I like to use a rubber curry comb before and after riding and my horses love the vacuum to clean up all those loose hairs and surface dirt.”
Also, take note of the season. Horses grow their coats based on the amount of daylight hours, when the daylight hours begin to increase they’ll begin to start shedding out their winter coat for their summer coat. The summer coat will begin to shed in August/September and the winter coat will shed in April/May. Sue recommends avoiding clipping when the winter coat sheds out unless you have to, as you might clip away their summer coat that is coming in.
“October to March, are the best months to clip for the winter. But you have the appropriate blankets ready to protect your horse from the cold after clipping.” When it comes to summer clipping, Sue recommends clipping from June to September, and making sure your horse has the right protection from the summer sun and bugs.
Finishing touches before you start to clip? Make sure you have a dry, quiet, wind-free, and well lit environment to clip your horse in. Clipping is also made significantly easier (on you, your horse, and your clippers) if you have a clean and dry horse before you start clipping.
High End Clippers vs Cheaper Clippers
You might be an amateur rider and clipper, but you don’t want your horse to look like he got in a fight with a lawnmower. A huge part of creating a nice clip is patience and a steady hand, but the other part of that equation is a pair of clippers that works well for the job at hand.
Sue’s top things to consider when purchasing clippers:
- I like to use a lightweight clipper with an ergonomically designed handle.
- For general trimming etc, then consider a cordless with a rechargeable battery.
- For body clipping you can use a good quality mid-sized 2 speed clipper, that takes a standard detachable blade.
- For tougher jobs a large clipper might be more suitable, but these clippers are usually heavy and awkward to use.
- Test the clippers for the amount of vibration and noise before you purchase. I find that the high end clippers are very quiet and have minimal vibration on the blades.
- Ensure that your blades are sharp, clean and free of rust and or debris, also make sure that you have several blades available before you start.
- I have used many different brands of clippers, so if you can ask a professional clipper what they use and prefer then you will get some great information before you purchase.
- It’s better to spend a bit more to get a quality clipper that will last you a long time then to buy a cheap clipper that will not do a good job. I have a cordless clipper that was purchased over 15 years ago, that I still use on a regular basis for my designs.
After the Clip
“When the clip is complete I like to give the horse a through grooming and or vacuum if available. Also I like to spray the coat with a conditioner or light oil to maintain its healthy shine. If you have an event or show planned or if you are traveling to a warmer climate, I recommend clipping approx. 10 days beforehand to ensure that the hair ends have closed and sealed so that moisture is not lost.”
Remember, Grooming is Bonding Time
Whether your horse is clipped or unclipped, practicing healthy grooming routines is important for you and your horse. “Grooming your horse before you ride is a good habit to follow, as this gives you a chance to have hands on your horse to find any issues, lumps or bumps that may have gone unnoticed. Picking out the horses feet and checking each limb to ensure that there is no heat, swelling or foreign objects embedded in the hoof.”
Here are some of Sue’s top grooming tips:
- I like to give a good massage type grooming after I ride to promote good circulation and loosen any deep down dirt next to the skin.
- If the horse is sweating, then a nice hose off or bath is recommended as well.
- I find that using a jelly brush along with your favorite horse shampoo and add a few drops of baby oil or finishing oil to the water will get all of the deep down dirt and give your horse an amazing shine. Be sure to rinse the shampoo out thoroughly.
- Some clients even like to give a mayonnaise treatment after clipping to really bring out the shine of the horses coat.