September 2021 - To Clip or Not to Clip?
Written by courtesy of SmartPak
Wednesday, 01 September 2021 00:44
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courtesy of SmartPak

Like just about everything in the horse world, the answer is “that depends on your horse.” Environment, management and personal preference all play a role in deciding whether or not to clip. Start by answering some key questions:


As in, who’s going to be responsible for dressing your horse? If you or your barn staff can’t check on your horse at least twice a day to make any necessary wardrobe changes, you should step away from the clippers and let your horse do his own thermoregulation.



That is, what will your horse be doing this winter? If he’s taking it easy, there’s no real reason to clip (we promise, he’ll look adorable all woolly!). However, if he’s regularly working up a sweat, having less hair will help him dry out quick and reduce the likelihood of him catching a chill.


Geography plays a factor since winter weather can be mild or severe in different parts of the country. But where your horse spends his time on your property is also a key factor. If he lives in a heated barn and rarely gets turned out, clip away! If he’s out in the elements24/7, it’s probably best to leave him be. If he spends his time both indoors and out, choose the most conservative clip you can get away with, and then choose the appropriate blanket.


Most riders clip sometime around late September – October (resist the urge to carve a jack-o-lantern in his hindquarters!). If you’re planning on showing through the winter or in the early spring, you may want to clip again later in the fall. Just be sure not to clip after the winter solstice on December 21st. Once the days start getting longer, the increased sunlight cues your horse to start growing his spring coat (and you don’t want to clip that off!).

Types of Clips

A Trace Clip is the most conservative, removing the winter coat only in the most sweatprone areas, including the underside of the neck and chest. It’s a great choice for horses who spend most of the day outside and aren’t ridden heavily in winter.

The Blanket Clip leaves a “blanket” of hair on the back, which keeps the topline warm and the legs protected but removes hair in sweat-prone areas. This is a great choice for horses who receive regular exercise and also spend time turned out.

If your horse stays in full work all winter and spends most of his time indoors or in very mild weather, a Fullbody Clip is probably your best bet. It greatly reduces coolout time and keeps your horse looking show-ring ready all season long.