Today we are dividing clip into three categories
- Performance clip
- Leisure clip
- Native clip
It is very individual when the clipping season begin for each horse. Some riders are pro clipping, and some are against. In the end it depends on what is ideal for the individual horse. Some horses are clipped all year round depending on their competition level and training intensity. Other horses are only clipped once or three times during the winter season.
If the rider is stretching the first clip of the year until late October / start November, one or two clips is usually enough. If the rider prefers (as me) to clip late September / start October it is not unusual for the horse to be clipped two or three times during the winter season. In fact, some horses are clipped about every two months of the year.
The disadvantage of clipping four to six times a year is that it might be difficult to maintain a nice glossy coat especially at the end of the winter season where light receptors in the horse’s eyes pick up the changes in day length. In the spring months, the production of prolactin, which has a slowing effect on the production of melatonin is affected so that the coat growth slows down and does not grow the same amount of length or dense in the coat. This is reflected in the fact that only a few hairs in the coat grown and that majority of the hair don’t. These hairs are nick named “pig hair” in Denmark and “cat hair” in the UK. Most often it is not the same amount of hair that is cut of in late January as in October when you clip, due to the slowdown of hair growth. Late January you simply refresh the clipping with some finishing touches. A unglossy or woolen coat is often a sign of wrong composition of feed and vitamins. Make sure that your horse is healthy within with correct nutrition with e.g a boost of with b-vitamin and dried herbal blends and oils in the shedding season/month. This boosts the coat to become healthy with shine and condition from within, which every equestrian love.
I clip to help my horses perform their best and give them the best possible way to temperature regulate and get rid of the heat they have generated during a training session. I personally feel the energy and better performance when they are clipped and not hampered by a dense coat. I love the fact that I easily can wash over the boys after a sweaty training session and use the solarium for a quick dry before putting on their stable blankets.
It is very individual which clip is preferred and there are as well many different variations of each clip. It is important to think about the necessity of clip and which rugs to invest in when clipping. A full clip and body clip require careful stable management duo to temperature fluctuations. There are several factors you should consider before choosing which clip to go with. Does the horse compete at a high level? Does the horse work at a high-performance level each day, a moderate-performance level or light-leisure level? Does the horse sweat a lot during training or is it more sensitive to cold? It is also important to consider how the temperature is in the stable during the day and night hours. Is it ventilated and colder or a bit more warm with tendency to stuffy and damp? Is the horse only turned out in paddock a couple of hours during the morning hours or is it turned out during all light hours of the day during the winter season?
Full clip is the most common clip in the equestrian sport at high-performance and moderate-performance level. When attending competition abroad it is usually necessary to clip before departure due to the temperature difference between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe and other some horse are attending the bigger international indoor competition with heated stables, headed warmups and show rings making it difficult for the horse to acclimatize at the competition venues.
The entire body including face, ears, chins, legs and saddle area is clipped, leaving a nice clean finish. The full clip helps the horse temperature regulate the best possible way preventing them from getting too hot and sweaty and maintain more energy during the training session. As mentioned above, a full clip requires careful horse management duo to the vulnerability to temperature fluctuation, cold and wind. You will need to invest in different turnout rugs, stable rugs and exercise blankets and be willing to switch between different number of gram/layers.
The Body clip (Hunter clip) is the most common clip at moderate-performance level. The entire body is clipped. Legs are left unclipped. This type of clip comes in different variations. Some clip the face, ears and chins. Some leave the face and ears but clip the chins and some only clip the neck leaving the head unclipped. Clipping the body prevents the horse from getting too hot and sweaty during training while the hair layer on the legs, face and ears continue to provide extra protection against the cold. The disadvantage of a body clip is that the horse still tends to sweat in the head around the eyes, behind the browband and ears underneath the headpiece. The legs might be more difficult to keep dry and clean during the wet winter season leaving them vulnerable to skin infections.