Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Clipping Horses

As the winter is growing closer, Ive been thinking more and more about my "game plan" to better combate those tricky cold months. And like most active riders, my biggest pet peeve (and concern) is the time it takes to cool out my horse after a workout.

My first winter with Milo we gave him a neck clip, where we just clipped the hair under his neck and chest. It helped a lot to cool him down and was easy to maintain-just kept a midweight blanket on him and he was stabled in a stall/paddock. Last winter, I did not clip Milo. I wasnt planning on showing, and while I still rode about 2-3 times a week, I wasnt working him so hard that the cool down wasnt as much a concern. Plus the fact that he was stabled in a large barn with a stall/paddock and didnt grow as thick a coat as the year before.

So to clip or not? This winter I do plan to show him (not competatively, but he will be worked for frequently) and have been considering clipping him to aid with the cool out period as he will be worked more. Yes, I do want to clip this winter. So the next questions come up; What clip and why? and When?

Two factors I need to take into consideration for what type of clip include how he will be boarded this winter and the workload he will receive. Milo is going to be in a stall and large paddock overnight, and a large pasture with tree shelter during the day. I also plan to ride 3-5 times a week. Almost doubling our load from last year. Why increase the work load? To keep him in good physic for working consistently this winter and performing at reining and cow sorting. Not to mention he will be ready to go for summer activities!

After knowing these two factors now, I was cosidering the blanket clip because it removes the most hair in the necessary areas without completely compromising his natural coat. Not to mention he doenst look entirely goofy as other clips can look.
Unfortunetly with this clip, it would require purchasing a neck hood since all of the hair is removed there. Not an investment I necessarily want to make.

So if the blanket clip is out, what other clip could I do? Maybe the trace clip:

This clip would remove the hair where he would sweat the most, still leaves enough hair on the areas the blanket does not cover and shouldnt be a difficult clip to do. Plus, Milo should be fine in his living conditions with this clip and only a midweight blanket. Only downside, it is kind of goofy looking. But if thats what it takes, so be it I suppose. A trace clip seems to be the best option for Milo and I.

Final question: When to clip? I have read that late September is the best time to clip. Thats coming up in just a few weeks now! Milo is beginning to shed his summer coat, therefore by the end of September his winter should be coming in more. This time of the year may be better too because it means his hair will grow back well enough by spring for winter shedding.

I dont think I want to give him a very close clip either, more mid range, if that makes sense and is possible. Just enough hair removal to make cooling out easier.

Now, am I going to clip? If I can borrow a set of clippers from someone (I only have a small handheld battery operated clippers) I am pretty confident I could perform the clip as I did his neck clip (with the aid of a friend). However, I do know of a gal at the barn who gives her horse a full body clip. About a month ago I approached her asking if she might we willing to clip Milo and she said she probably would be.  Now I just have to ask her if I can solicit her services in the coming weeks. Fingers crossed!


Anonymous said...

Trace clip works pretty well - not the prettiest thing but it'll do the trick.

An Image of Grace said...

I used to work at a hunter/jumper barn where everybody clipped in the winter. I do not clip because my horse does not come into a barn at night, so if she chooses not to stand in her shelter I have just taken away her natural defense against the weather. I also think it looks really goofy!

If you do body clip I highly recommend getting someone who is experienced to do it for you. Otherwise you run the risk of the plucked chicken look! I've seen it and it's not pretty! Don't touch up after December 21, or you risk damaging the summer coat.

When my husband and I lived at the hunter/jumper barn, the first time he saw a horse with a fresh trace clip he asked me if the horse had just had surgery.

in2paints said...

I don't blanket and I don't clip. Well, my older horse gets a blanket on occasion, but he's older and it's only during really extreme weather. They have a shelter to get under and aren't cooped up in stalls, and being able to move around helps keep them warm. If they were stalled, I'd probably blanket.

They're out 24/7 and the winters here in NC are fairly mild (except for last winter... BRR!) so I prefer to let nature do its thing. I considered doing a trace clip on Lilly at one point, but later decided against it and just bought a nice cooler instead. So when Lilly is hot after a ride, I just take the time that's needed to cool her out.

She always looks like a wooly bear at the first few shows, but I don't mind. :)