To Clip, or Not To Clip?

Have you ever spent extra hours at the barn in the cool winter months waiting for your horse to cool down after a long ride so it was safe to put their blanket back on? If you plan on riding your horse regularly this winter, it might be wise to consider body clipping. This method is used by many riders to help their horses cool off faster without risk of chill, plus there is the added bonus of show-ready appearance all year round!

In the winter, horses grow thicker coats and their skin produces more grease than normal. This helps protect them from cold, wet weather. While this is great for managing their core body temperature, it can present a challenge to riders if their horses sweat while working in the winter. The sweat and grease mix to generate a film that coats a horse’s body which can be slow to dry. If they were to be turned out with this layer of moisture on their coat or if a blanket were to be placed over it, the horse could be at risk of experiencing a chill and become vulnerable to illness. Scientific studies suggest that a properly clipped horse will experience less strain on their thermoregulatory system (the system that helps them maintain a healthy core body temperature) with enhanced heat loss in various parts of their body.

If you think clipping is the right decision for your horse, it’s time to decide which body clip will be the most beneficial.


Types of body clips from Big Dee’s


The trace clip is pretty minimal and is a common choice for riders to get the job done. It entails clipping the most sweat-prone areas – beneath the neck and chest. This is recommended for horses with light workloads. The blanket clip follows the muscles of the topline while leaving a little padding on the back and the legs. This is a good choice for horses with moderate workloads and turnout time. The hunter clip entails removing the coat with the exception of the legs and a saddle-shaped trace along the back. This allows for optimal thermoregulation, even throughout the most strenuous of workouts. However, this type of clip requires proper blanketing while exposed to the elements. The full body clip is an excellent choice for horses that show throughout the winter season in milder climates and spend most of their days indoors.

To clip your horse properly, set aside 2-4 hours as it can be quite the process and you want to remain calm and patient with your horse throughout the clipping session. Once you’re ready to clip, it’s time to bathe your horse. A dirty coat is harsh on your clipper blades which can lead to discomfort for your horse and uneven clipping lines. Next, spend the first minute or so with the clippers running near the horse so they have a positive experience. Since the shoulder is the least sensitive area, clipping professionals always recommend starting there. Whether you prefer long or short strokes, always clip against the hair. You will need to oil and/or use coolant on the blades as needed every approximately 15-20 minutes to keep them clean and to avoid overheating. For challenging areas with various skin creases, use your free hand to gently pull the skin taught to avoid any cuts. While clipping areas with swirls, you will need to change the direction and angle of your clippers to keep clipping against the hair.

If body clipping is the right choice for your horse, we are confident you will have a positive clipping experience with the correct tools and patience. Happy clipping!