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Clipping your Horse

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In the winter, horses grow a thick coat to protect them from the elements. The thickness of this coat will depend upon the type and breeding of the horse.

A native pony will develop a very thick coat thus enabling him to cope with his natural environment, often moorland.  A thoroughbred may only develop a slight coat having been bred very differently over the centuries.

First of all - find a new set of clippers, or accessories for your existing clippers, in our online shop.

Why clip?

If you intend to work your horse hard through the winter then you will need to clip him.  If the hair is left long he will sweat up and lose condition.  You should not clip your horse for purely cosmetic purposes!

When to clip

Usually the first clip will take place in October.  Dependent on the re-growth of hair, a second or third clip may be necessary.  The last clip should be done by the end of January to allow the spring coat to grow through properly.

Types of clip

See below for images to guide you.

Jumping horseDrain pipe clip

Ideal for ponies in light work or on youngsters as an introduction to clipping. Hair is only removed from the chest and wind pipe.

Trace clip

Used mostly on horses that are turned out with a New Zealand rug.  The hair is removed from the belly, between the thighs and forearms, across the chest and up the underside of the neck.  The hair is left long on the legs and back. There are three variations of the clip; high, medium and low, depending on how high the hair is left on the sides.

Blanket clip

Similar to the trace clip but with the hair removed from the neck and head.  If turned out the horse will require a neck cover or combo (full neck) rug.

Hunter clip

Suitable for horses in hard work and stabled.  The hair is left on the legs as far up as the elbows and thighs and left on the saddle patch. The theory is that the hair left on the legs offers protection against cold or injury from thorns and other hazards that might cause tears and scratches.  The hair also offers protection from wet, muddy conditions that may cause mud fever and cracked heels.  The saddle pad can help prevent a sore back.

Full clip

The coat is removed from the entire body.  Horses clipped this way require excellent management and rugging at all times.  Stable bandages may also be required.

Rules of Clipping

  • NEVER hurry - make a mistake and the hair cannot be put back on!
  • Check equipment is working properly.
  • Have a spare set of sharp blades.
  • Always maintain your clippers properly and clean them after use.
  • Always use a circuit breaker to avoid the risk of electrocution.  Wear rubber boots or rubber soled shoes.
  • Ensure your horse’s coat is dry and clean.
  • Tie your horse up to a loop of string fastened to the ring.
  • Make sure he is standing on a clean floor and in an uncluttered area.
  • Loop the mane up in rubber bands and put on atail bandage doubling up the tail to enclose it.
  • Place a rug on the horses back – a cold horse is a fidgety one!
  • Let the clippers run for a moment or two allowing the horse to become accustomed to the noise.
  • Adjust the tension screw correctly.
  • Let the clippers do the work. Just guide the blades and make sure the coat line remains level.
  • Keep below the line you are aiming at to begin with - until you are sure that you have the correct height and both sides will match!
  • If you are leaving a saddle patch use anumnah as a pattern.
  • If the clippers get hot, stop and allow them to cool down.
  • Never clip the hair from inside the ears or the long hair in the muzzle area.
  • There are special smaller clippers available for the head area.
  • If your horse refuses to settle you may find it safer, for both of you, to use a twitch on his muzzle.
  • A horse that is really difficult to clip may need a veterinary surgeon to give him a tranquillizer.
  • When finished make your horse comfortable, rug him up and provide a deep bed to keep him warm.
  • Remember a clipped horse will feel cold at exercise and be more inclined to buck and play about!  An exercise blanket may help.


Drain pipe clip   Trace clip
Blanket clip   Hunter clip
Full clip

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