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What is the best horse clip?

Updated: Nov 26, 2023

Choosing what is the best horse clip does depend on what level of work your horse is currently undertaking. A horse's long natural coat serves him well when he lives a natural outdoor life, it can be a handicap to a working horse and a problem to the groom/owner.

What is the best horse clip?

The long winter coat is designed for warmth and insulation, not cooling. When a horse works hard, his long coat becomes soaked with sweat and is heavy, creating un-comfort. The heavy winter coat is difficult to groom, as the body brush does not penetrate thick winter hair well, and the dandy brush only brings more scurf and dandruff to the surface, clipping shortens the coat to a bit below its summer length.

Why do we do horse clipping?

Horse clipping permits quicker evaporation of sweat, more rapid drying and easier grooming, besides making the horse more comfortable while working and improving his appearance. While body clipping a horse will save some time and effort in grooming, it will require that you keep your horse blanketed according to the temperature, and clipping sometimes temporarily changes the coat colour.

No matter how well you blanket your horses, they will grow a coat as quickly as you clip it off!

Deciding when to clip horse

Answer these questions to decide what is the best horse clip:

  1. Where does your horse live? If your horse lives outside most of the winter then you should only be considering a bib clip, leaving his legs and face on otherwise your horse could get cold.

  2. What is your horse's workload? How much work your horse get during the winter, and how sweaty he can become is a big factor in determining when to clip.

  3. How long does it take for your horse to dry off? If you ride for 30 minutes, it should not take more than 10 minutes for your horse to cool off. If you are finding your horse is taking longer to dry, then he needs a clip.

Preparing for horse clipping

1. First, give your horse a good bath the day before you want to clip. Pay attention to the top of the rump, the mane and the legs, as these areas tend to be the worst for dirt and grease, causing clippers blades to become dull and blunt, which will cause the clipper motor to overheat.

2. Next, spray your horse's coat with clipping coat oil. This helps to provide a sheen to the coat, which allows the clippers to run through smoothly.

3. If you don't have warm water to bathe your horse, apply the clipping coat oil and rub it in with a towel.

Different horse clips

Trace clip, Full clip, Body clip, Blanket clip
Types of Horse Clips

If you are new to horse clipping, deciding on what clip is best for your horse does come with a requirement to get straight lines. You can help yourself by drawing the outline of the clip onto your horse using chalk or by applying tape.

Body clips range from the full clip or all over body clip usually done on show horses to partial clips that leave the horse with much of his natural cold weather protection but shorten the coat over the places that sweat the most. A hunter clip is used on hunters that are standing around a lot, the body and head are clipped but the long hair is left on the legs and the saddle patch in the shape of a saddle, which protects the skin on the back.

Belly or Bib Clip

This clip is best for horses that are in light work. You remove hair from the belly and up through the legs, to the underside of the neck. You can finish at the top of the throat or you can also remove the hair on the under-side of the jaw.

Trace Clip A trace clip may be extended to include part or all of the head and neck, or along the lower edge of the hindquarters. This clip is useful for horses in moderate work that sweat at the bottom of their neck and flanks. There are a few ways to do trace clips, a high trace clip includes at least part of the neck and shoulder, and brings the line off the clip higher up on the belly.

Blanket Clip

Place an exercise sheet on your horse, and that is the outline for a blanket clip. Everything outside off the sheet is clipped. This clip is ideal for horses that go hunting or cross-country, because it helps keep their back warm.

Hunter Clip

A hunter clip is for a horse that is in full work. It however does require a lot or "rugging" because the horse cannot be left "naked" anytime during the winter, because you have removed his natural defence. With a Hunter Clip you will need to leave a saddle patch of hair. Using your chalk mark around your numnah when placed on the horse. If you try to clip around the pad itself, you risk the pad moving and then you will end up with no saddle patch.

Shoulder Rubs

When deciding on what is the best horse clip, it is important you check your horse's shoulders frequently to ensure the rug is not rubbing. As soon as there are signs of hair loss, treat the areas with skin protection like Vaseline. Rub it in well, leaving a little extra to prevent friction. Then switch blankets to find a better fit and pop on a chest rub to prevent further rubbing.

For the best appearance, and so that you will not have to repeat the clip again too soon, it is best to wait until October when the horse's coat is well established and the summer coat has shed. For tips and tricks for clipping your horse, click here.

If you start to clip earlier, you will probably need to do horse clipping every 6 weeks, although this varies from horse to horse and according to the climate. A full clip will usually grow out completely in about three months.

If you want to discover How To Clip Like a Pro, read this article and it will give you more information on what is the best clip.

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