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Friday, 18 October 2019

What Type of Clip To Give Your Horse This Winter

Images from horseandhound.co.uk

Now that we're in mid-October, most of us who work our horses throughout the winter are starting to think about clipping. I've pulled together a short post about what the best type of clip is to give your horse or pony this winter based on the workload your horse will have, what rugging you wish to use and whether your horse or pony will be stabled or turned out.

Remember the true reason we clip horses throughout the winter is not cosmetic but instead is to prevent our horses from staying wet from sweaty in colder conditions. You may therefore also see a variation of clips depending on where horses are based and the low temperatures that are expected throughout the winter months.

There are seven most commonly selected horse clips to select depending on your needs:

  • Full clip
  • Hunter clip
  • Blanket clip
  • Chaser clip
  • Tracer clip
  • Irish clip
  • Bib clip

So let's take a deeper look at each one to help you decide which one is most suitable for you this winter. Just a quick tip, if you're unsure between two, clip the one which leaves the most hair left on the horse. This way, if you discover it isn't enough and they are still far too sweaty, you can always clip more off...but you can never put it back on!

Full clip

You will often only see this clip on horses in hard work and doing a high level of competition. As its name describes, all hair is clipped from the horse - the head, the legs and no saddle patch is left. Horses that require this clip will often sweat during their work, so removing the hair fully from their bodies enables them to dry quickly in the cooler months and allow you to put horse rugs on to keep them warm after working. 

Image from horseandhound.co.uk

Unless you experience unusually warm winter months, it will be crucial that you cleverly rug your horse to ensure that he stays warm and doesn't begin to keep himself warm through using up his own body fat. This will typically cause your horse to lose weight over the winter months. You should also take extra care, particularly around the legs in muddy conditions for symptoms of mud fever.

Hunter clip

Again, a clip that is very similar to a full clip in terms of the horse's workload. By its very name it is suited to horses that spent their days out in the hunting field, except with two key differences. keeping the hair on the horse's legs helps to offer some protection to the skin from mud, water and other winter ground found out in the field. And secondly leaving a saddle patch on the horse's back to help protect the skin from having a rider in the saddle for extended periods of time. 

Image from horseandhound.co.uk


This is the clip that I have chosen for Louie over the last 2-3 years due to riding on a nighttime and dealing with the sweat post-workout. He needs to be rugged due to lowe temperatures, and I therefore need his coat to dry as quickly as possible. Similarly to the full clip, horses who are clipped into the hunter clip will need careful rug management to ensure that they are kept warm.

Blanket clip

Another very popular clip for horses in reasonable work throughout the winter months. The legs, back, sides and haunches are left unclipped in the shape of a 'blanket' and is ideal for horses that are in medium work but that have extended periods of turnout, perhaps even live out. Many people who select a hunter clip would also be wise to select a blanket clip and prevent needing to rug horses as heavily throughout the winter. 

Image from horseandhound.co.uk


The horse's legs are left unclipped along with half of the horses head, leaving some protection from the winter elements and muddier conditions.


Irish clip

So as you just read about 'chasing' the chaser clip closer to the mane, you can make another adjustment and will finish up with an Irish clip. Rather than clipping a blanket clip and then chasing the topline, the Irish clip keeps all hair on the quarters and instead leads from the back of the stomach and clips a straight line to the back of the ear.

Image from horseandhound.co.uk

It's perfect for horses in low to medium work (such as hacking only) as helps to maintain the natural warmth from the coat, but it's also great for horses that aren't great with clippers as it's straight forward to clip on just one straight line. Most Irish clips will leave the leg hair unclipped, along with half a face simply due to workload not requiring it, but if you have a horse good with clipping, you can clip the full face. Just make sure you bring your horse in at night if you do!


Chaser clip

A very similar clip to the blanket clip but offering a little more warmth from leaving unclipped hair up the neck and along the topline. It can be a great choice if you're only planning to hack throughout the winter. There is also a difference that the full face is also clipped off and it is therefore recommended that this clip is not used on horses that live out, but perhaps come in at night to offer protection to their faces. 

Image from horseandhound.co.uk


This can be a great clip to chose for your horse if he is a finer bred horse and requires more warmth on his key muscle groups to help maintain weight and condition throughout the winter. This clip can be modified slightly to 'chase' closer to the mane if you need to avoid that sweaty area on the neck more. 

Trace clip

This clip is definitely the one for you if you only want to have a plod around the countryside a few times a week with the odd canter here and there. It's also perfect for horses living out to help keep them naturally warm but allowing some exercise from clipping off hair on main sweaty areas. It's the lighter work version of a chaser clip!

Image from horseandhound.co.uk


Hair is clipped from the underside of the belly, the top of the back legs and underside of the gullet. The head remains full unclipped which is great for those horses or ponies living out over the winter. So if you haven't got much hard work planned this winter, this could be a clip for you and your horse! 

Bib clip

This horse clip isn't often used for horses in work, but instead is used to help horses and ponies with very thick coats to not get too hot either under a rug or on a warmer winter day. It's a perfect clip for horses that live out and don't do any work but that you notice get a little hot with their natural winter coat. It's also a great clip to help horses get used to clippers as it's quick and doesn't vibrant on any bony spots, and it still looks neat and tidy for the days when they've no rugs on!

Image from horseandhound.co.uk


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