Managing Your Horse’s Winter Coat: A Clipping Guide

As the days get shorter, less daylight reaches the horses’ retina and this starts to stimulate the horse’s coat to grow thicker. The thicker winter coat helps to keep the horse’s skin dry and protected from water and dirt, helping to keep the horse warm during the colder winter months.

For horses that are kept fit and in work over Winter, this can become a problem as the horse may sweat heavily when it’s ridden. This can be a problem firstly because the horse will be losing vital electrolytes and therefore eventually excessive sweating will lead to loss of condition. Secondly, during Winter it is much harder to get your horse dry again – meaning your horse is at risk of becoming very cold whilst it is wet with sweat. The preferred option for many owners is to clip their horse during the colder months to prevent sweating whilst ridden, then keep the horse warm when not ridden by rugging.

 

Clipping Preparation

The coat must be clean and dry before clipping – both to keep the horse comfortable and to prevent damage to your clipper blades. It’s ideal to give your horse a thorough bath a day or two before you intend to clip. We recommend using Gallop Extra Strength Shampoo which contains twice the concentration of active ingredients, this means that this shampoo lifts all traces of dirt, sweat and grease out of the horse’s coat, and it’s an ideal shampoo for horses with longer thicker hair. Once bathed with shampoo, you should then condition the horses’ coat, mane and tail to ensure that the coat stays healthy and strong, as well as helping to prevent dirt sticking to the coat before you clip. Canter Coat Shine is a great coat conditioner which will help keep the coat sleek and shiny, and also helping to actively repel dust, dirt and stains.

 

Clipping

Clipping ideally should be done in daylight so that you are less likely to miss bits, and after the horse has been groomed. The type of clip you are giving will depend on how much your horse sweats, how long and thick the Winter coat is and how much the horse feels the cold. Some clipper oil should be run through the blades to make sure that they are running smoothly and the tension of the blades should be checked and altered before you use them on the horse’s coat. Generally it is a good idea to start the clip on the horse’s neck or shoulder where the horse can see you, working in long smooth strokes with an even pressure to avoid lines in the horses’ coat. Always clip against the direction that the coat lies in and check that the blades do not get too hot. Smaller trimmers may need to be used around the horse’s ears and face.

 

After Care

Once the clip is finished give the horse a good groom to remove any loose hair and this will also give you a good opportunity to check that the clip is symmetrical and that no bits were missed.  The horse should then be rugged to keep it warm. Newly clipped horses often have more sensitive skin for a few days so using softer brushes can sometimes be a good idea. Hot clothing can also be a great way to remove any clipper oil residue which is left on the coat. Canter Coat Shine is ideal for hot clothing as well as spraying a light mist over the horse’s chest and shoulders to prevent rugs rubbing.