Deciding How Much to Clip and Why

(I had some Blogger issues, some of you may see this twice, sorry!)

Three years ago, when I first got Connor, I was firmly against clipping.  I had never body clipped before, and believed in keeping horses in as close to their natural state as possible. I did an apron clip that first year, only because my trainer forced me to strongly suggested it.

2011

In 2012, I remembered that he sweated through his flanks a lot, and did a low trace:

2012 (The lines only look that straight because Austen did them.  Also, my trainer hated the "racing stripe" on his butt, so I went back and modified it to match the angled cut over the foreleg."

I tossed around the idea of full clipping on this blog in late 2012/early 2013, and asked for opinions on it, but I still didn't want to take that much hair off, even as I was currying sweaty 3" thick yak coat for an hour after my rides, and Connor was pretty warm during lessons.

In 2013, basically just due to clipper logistics, the first clip I did was a trace.  It was my first time clipping by myself, I didn't bathe, and those are not body clippers.  It wasn't pretty.


Then I finally did my first full clip in November of 2013, and I was amazed at how much better it made life for both of us over the winter - even in the coldest winter in recent history in this area.


These are the reasons I clip, and full clip:

1. Connor is more comfortable in work.  He's actually forward through the entire lesson instead of getting hot and sluggish partway through.
2. He cools out faster - pretty much instantly he's able to wear his blanket again after a ride.  This is important for him (so he's not standing around wet in winter, even with a cooler that's no fun) and for me (I would often get home from my 7pm Thursday lesson at 10pm after cooling him out + driving.)
3. He didn't get cold.  When it got down to -12F, he wore his 100g liner, 200g liner and 100g blanket for a few days.  Otherwise, he was warm and toasty all winter in 200-300g of total fill.  He runs hot anyway, so I often found myself blanketing him 100g less than I thought I would be at a given temperature.
4. "When in Rome..." A full clip with the angled legs, head left on and tail point is pretty much standard issue in our barn.
5. No shedding.  Last March was awesome.  Shedding a Welsh Cob's full winter coat is not fun at all.
6. It makes blanketing decisions easier, earlier in the season.
7. I didn't realize how much I disliked currying wet horse coat until I didn't have to do it anymore.
8. He's out during the day and in at night.  A horse on 24/7 turnout, I might try to leave more hair on.
9. A full clip meant I didn't have to cut long straight lines, which, see above, I am not good at.
10. And following 9, he didn't look completely ridiculous at early season events last year:

May of 2014.  I wouldn't love this picture as much if I was cringing at the horrible trace clip I did at first last year.

So that's my clipping journey, from totally against to totally in favor of clipping.  Yes, nature gave them hair, but keeping a horse in work through the winter is not natural, so we have to deviate from nature in order to keep them healthy and ourselves sane.

I know some people have already blogged about being on the clipping fence, so I hope this post helps you decide one way or the other.  Not every horse needs to be clipped, not every horse needs to be fully clipped, but when you find the amount of clipping that works for you and your routine and your horse, it's magical.

What's your clipping plan for the year and why?

28 comments:

  1. I do a full clip - as in everything, even legs. Our winters are just not cold enough to warrant much hair, it becomes a big hassle really quickly. Plus mine is in a stall 12 hours a day. I personally prefer to get rid of the leg hair too, it holds onto water/dirt and can hide injuries, and mine in particular doesn't need the hair. I do know plenty of people that keep the leg hair though... needs vary from horse to horse and person to person.

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    1. Oh and FWIW for a clip with the legs and head left on, I've always called (and heard it called) a hunter clip because it's the typical clip for a foxhunter. Sometimes there is a saddle patch left as well. Full clip typically means everything except that teeny triangle above the tail.

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    2. I know what you mean about it hiding injuries, especially with a drafty pony - there have been many times I panicked about a tendon injury only to find the hair was just ruffled there. I have no reason to take it off, really, so I leave it - and I love his winter feathers. Thanks for the heads up on the terminology, I knew it wasn't really a full clip but thought you had to leave the saddle area for it to really be a hunter clip.

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  2. I've never clipped before, but can understand that with him still being in full work during the winter it is a necessary thing. For Suzie, because I don't have an indoor close to me, the Winters are pretty much "off" for us until the snow melts.

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    1. I know a lot of people like that, and it's such a personal decision. No right or wrong answer. I honestly think giving them a winter break is probably a good thing, mentally.

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  3. I usually do some sort of a trace clip or a chaser clip for Spot. It doesn't get that cold here and most people full body clip but my barn doesn't allow for many blanket changes. Also, it gets warm enough during the day here so she can go out nekkid. She has started her winter coat, so I'll probably clip in the next few weeks while it's still warm enough to give her a bath.

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    1. Not sure where you are, but I have the same issue with blanket changes at my barn, and I actually found that full clipping made that easier to deal with - he always has to have something on, and as long as the blanket is reasonably close on weight and breathable, he's good in being in something slightly too warm for a couple of hours a day. Not sweaty, just a bit warm. I do like trace or chasers though, I'd probably do a chaser if I had other options.

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  4. I do the full body clip minus the legs (head is clipped) so I guess a modified full body/hunter clip. I had never had a clipped horse before 2011 because I just never saw the need, I was in school a lot and not showing in early spring or clinicing in winter etc, we clipped Carlos for the GM clinic and I kinda wondered how I had ever lived before, clipping makes so much sense for the busy rider and the in work horse/pony.

    We typically clip in mid November, California doesn't have tough winters, though it does get very cold at night, and we only have to body clip them once if we do it in November. So saves money, horses, time etc.

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    1. I get the waiting til November thing. I jumped the gun a bit early to take advantage of bathing weather. That's a good way to put it, clipping makes sense for the busy rider and working horse. Never done the head or legs though, never saw the need besides aesthetics (which is obviously VERY important in a GM clinic...)

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  5. Sigh, I am in the midst of deciding right now. I miiiiiiiight do an apron clip this year. I've never clipped before; full work is not always possible in our winters, even with an indoor, but at the same time he's sweating quite a bit more than he has in the past, and he does have his full array of blankets now. I am torn.

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    1. I have heard people say that the point of a trace and apron clip is that (especially if you leave the belly on) they don't even need to be blanketed. I think either one is perfectly reasonable in your situation. Makes things a little easier for you, a little more comfortable for him in work, and he's not going to suffer when he's outside since you have all your blankets. Go for it!

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  6. Full clip for the boys in work, except the legs since they both fox hunt. The others remain fully fuzzy. We can change blankets pretty much whenever we want so that's not too hard to manage - I often come home at lunch and switch out/remove blankets so it all works out.

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    1. That's definitely a perk of being at home - and the legs make sense in the context of fox hunting too. Connor just has to deal, within reason. Right now I'm still bringing his buddy in in order to catch him, so even if we did do midday blanket changes (we don't) they probably wouldn't do it anyway since he's so hard to catch/that would be really time consuming for them.

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  7. I think I'm looking at another trace clip. Probably a bit higher then last year, but not much. Being a thoroughbred on 24/7 turnout in Indiana, the full clip is overkill. That said, he does get his fetlocks trimmed no matter what. Picking clay iceballs out of winter feathers is a pain in the pass. I'll probably wait until November to clip, too. Since I have to drug him, I like to do it late enough in the season that I only have to do it once.

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    1. Yeah, I totally understand only wanting to do it once if you have to drug him. I have to say, even last winter Connor never got iceballs in his feathers. Not sure why.

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  8. I found someone today who is local to me who does clipping...have an appointment with the clippers in two weeks time, I think we'll start with the apron clip you suggested!

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    1. I think you'll be really happy with that choice! I hope it goes well and Bridget is good!

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  9. I wanna do a trace clip this year, I may have more courage since it's all training rides for my princess til February ;) she's not super hairy and I can't play the blanket on/off game so at most a trace clip and a no to light blanket.

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    1. Yeah, the not-super-hairy horses in my barn also can get away with no to light clipping. Lucky you!

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  10. Full body clip all the way. It's all I've ever done, although now I will also do legs and face. We left the legs long when I was fox hunting to give them extra protection against the shrub, but that's not needed for the hunter/jumper ring.

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    1. Clipped aesthetics probably mean more to you since you show in the winter, being down south. We are firmly into winter hibernation mode, and the most exciting thing we'll be doing until his coat grows back in is a CJF clinic and a schooling show in April. I know I don't need to leave the legs on, but I don't have a compelling reason to remove them.

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  11. High/modified trace for us! Pony lives out, so he needs some hair, but he very quickly becomes a total sweaty yak, thus the clippage.

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    1. You definitely seem like you have a good handle on what works best for you and Dino!

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  12. I think I'm clipping this week. :-) I love clipped horses!!

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    1. Meeeee toooooooooo! Now I do, anyway.

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  13. I've never kept a horse in work enough throughout winter to warrant clipping, but this might be the year for it since I have some big plans for next summer! I've only ever clipped a mini before (talk about hair) just in the spring to help her out as the weather was getting warmer. It's nice to hear from someone who didn't used to clip in the winter and why you've started!

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  14. I love a body-clipped horse.. I don't do legs, but everything else! Hair drives me nuts. So much harder to get mud/dust/sweat out of. I've already clipped Tim and I'm planning on doing it at least once more before spring. He grows hair back really fast =/

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  15. Full clip this year for Riva - with legs and head left alone. Already happy with this and will most likely do again in January since her hair grows back crazy fast. I would have put the first clip off until November, but we have a lesson Nov. 1st!

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