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About Horse Body Clipping

Horses grow thick coats and their skin produces more grease in winter to help protect them against wet and cold weather. These assets are great for keeping the horse naturally warm, but they make it difficult and even unhealthy if the horse is worked regularly to the point of perspiring. Sweat mixes with the grease in the coat to create a film that mats the thick hair. The thick coat is slow to dry, and it can’t keep a horse warm in this matted state, leaving the horse vulnerable to chills that can lead to illness.

That’s why body clipping may be important. If you don’t ride your horse much in winter or you hack leisurely, you probably won’t need to clip your horse. But some form of horse clipping may be necessary for any horse that is in a steady program of regular work in winter. Body clipping necessitates blanketing to make up for the loss of the horse’s natural protection, this is a commitment that should be considered long before the clippers are taken out of their box. (See About Blanketing and Horse Clothing.) The horse will need different weights of outerwear or some stable wear, and potentially a neck cover and exercise rug, depending on the amount of hair that is removed from his body.

If you remove a lot of hair from your horse on a day when the temperature is low, you may want to have an exercise rug, cooler, or some other covering to drape on your horse as you clip. Doing so will prevent your horse from getting chilled while you work.

There are different types of traditional body clips. The one you choose for your horse depends on the type of work you’ll do, how much he perspires, and what is acceptable for your riding discipline. Some people find it helpful to mark an outline of their desired body clip using chalk or a smaller set of clippers.

Strip Clip:

If your horse will do only light work and you want to avoid blanketing him except for in the coldest weather, consider the minimal strip clip. This pattern involves clipping a strip of hair along the front of the horse’s neck along the jugular, through the front of the chest and under the belly.

Strip Clip

Trace Clip:

This horse clip gets its name from its original use on harness horses. Hair is clipped along the areas where the harness traces would come in contact with the horse. Hair is clipped along the underside and sides of the neck, shoulders and belly and is left intact on the legs and body. The trace clip is a popular one because it removes hair from the areas where horses perspire most. Some people clip a narrow swath of hair, while others prefer to clip hair about halfway up the horse.

Trace Clip
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