I’ve “put myself out there” and publically clipped my horse, and received a lot of different kinds of attention for it. Some get angry, some get curious (which someone handle great, others just get rude), and some openly takes my place in the “debate” and defends me. But what I’ve seen though, is a lack of knowledge about the subject. Let me guide you through the winter clip!
One of my ex-horses; the fjord Odin. Rocking his clip!
There are many reasons why you would clip a horse. Many of my followers come from warmer countries (where there are no snow or “proper” winter), and therefore look at clipping as something you do during summer, to help the horse keep a reasonable temperature. To them; clipping the winter fur makes no sense, because the horse will need that fur for the colder temperatures!
Which is true. I 100% agree! The winter fur is great, and without a proper winter fur coat on, your horse can not keep himself warm on his own. He will simply freeze to death if you clip him, put him out on the field, and proceed to give zero fucks about him.
However, I think many forget that we take this whole winter clip-thing very seriously. I have over 15 different rugs, in different thicknesses and shapes, so I can closely monitor and keep his body temperature correct. My horse will not get cold, thanks to my rug wardrobe! He will also not get too warm. I also have extras of everything, in case something gets wet and doesn’t dry properly.
Let me also correct those of you who say “shave”; I know you probably know, but the terminology is a bit important. The horses are not shaved at all, they are clipped. That means that there is in fact fur left behind (you can choose how much by using different blades).
Spot the horse with poor fur quality!
Now, the reasons why we clip the horses are many. A perfectly healthy horse kept outside 24/7, will in 99% of the times, not get clipped. Let me guide you through the 5 main reasons as of why the winter fur is clipped away;
1. The horse has such poor winter fur quality, it doesn’t keep him warm. Putting rugs on top of a long, dysfunctional coat of fur makes it difficult to find the “correct” rug. Clipping away the fur will ease the struggle of finding the perfect rug. This is commonly seen in older horses, sick horses, and horses with PPID (Cushings Syndrome) etc.
2. The horse is stabled. With indoor temperatures, he will break a sweat. Sweating for up to 12 hours straight can (and most likely will) lead to skin conditions, such as eczema and dandruff etc. This can cause great discomfort, in addition to be itchy and bothersome. Being too warm for close to 12 hours might also result in a dehydrated horse, greatly increasing the risk of colic.
3. The horse is trained a lot. Many competition horses are clipped to ensure they’re comfortable even during tough training. A thick winter coat can overheat the horse and result in colic, or a discomfortable and angry horse who starts to look upon training as something bad.
4. The owner simply doesn’t want to spend two months getting the fur off. Yes, many times it can take months to brush all the hair out when winter is replaced with summer! Your entire wardrobe of rugs, saddle pads, bell boots, bandages and bridles (and your own clothes!!) will be drenched in fur and it really is bothersome.
5. The owner is allergic to horses, and clipping them makes it easier to handle them.
Now, I have no intentions to imprint on you that clipping the winter fur is the only way to go. If the fur is healthy and working properly, it will keep your horse warm even in the worst imaginable temperatures. It will keep him comfortable during basic training, and it will dry him up no-time when he gets sweaty. All he needs is a slight breeze, and swosh! Sweat away!
However, the more unnatural you keep your horses, the more you have to do in order for him to feel great. The winter fur is made to fit the horse’s natural needs, not our unnatural ways of keeping him. If he is put in a stable where the temperature is unnaturally warm, you need to help him. If you train him more than he would naturally exercise himself, you need to help him. No one gains anything positive from an overheated, angry horse, nor a sick horse with colic and skin conditions!
This year is the first time both Lillen and Brego has been clipped, and they both seem a lot more comfortable and energetic. They now don’t have to deal with spending energy on keeping themselves cool, and that is something they both seem to love! When they’re outside they get well fitted and warm rugs on, and they can move freely around. Brego has already gone rogue and runs around like the biggest cold-blooded rebel I’ve ever seen. I thought I had a calm youngster, but I think I need to find myself some extra safety gear next time I saddle up. The ER should be ready for me!
Odin was very happy about his body temperature after he got his clip!
My preferred clip is to leave the head and the legs, so they have protection against the weather where I can’t supply them with rugs. This works great for my horses! Do you clip your horse, and why?