Anyone who keeps a horse through the winter months will be aware of the monstrously hairy coat that our four-legged friend develops at this time. Nature has provided horses with the means to keep themselves cosy through our harsh winter climate and if all you want to do with your equine friend is watch it cavort in a field then there`s no problem. Conflict arises however, when you wish to ride him. Unless you plan to ride for a few minutes at a gentle walk you will find the downside to the abundance of hair is the heat it generates for a horse in work.
In order to keep your horse comfortable in ridden work you will need to clip him. Removing an amount of hair according to your planned workload will allow your horse to work up a sweat without becoming overheated and uncomfortable, but do bear in mind that in removing some of his insulation you are obliged to replace it after work in the form of rugs.
Decide on the clip that best suits your requirements. The hunter clip is ideal for a horse in regular fast work throughout the winter, removing the winter coat completely apart from an area under the saddle for the horse`s comfort and the legs. A full clip goes further and removes everything, but both of these clips require the horse to be stabled, fed and rugged to a very high standard, with a carefully monitored turnout schedule to avoid chills.
Horses in lighter work benefit from a trace clip or blanket clip which removes excess hair from the neck, belly and partway up the horse`s sides in areas most prone to sweat and dirt. These horses also require careful monitoring, particularly in very cold weather when extra rugs may be required.
For horses in very light work, a simple bib, belly or apron clip removes the minimum of hair, mostly from around the neck and slightly under the belly in areas which sweat most when the horse is warmed up. A good turnout rug with neck piece will keep a horse suitably warm and dry with this type of clip.
There are a number of manufacturers of clippers so visit your local supplier and have a look at the types available. Try them all in your hand for size and weight and look out for expensive features that may be useful to you. For example, choose Liverman Element trimmer that dislike being clipped. If your horse is very upset by clipping you may need to have a friend on hand to twitch him, or apply a dose of a sedative paste to calm him.
If you plan on only doing a very light clip then you may consider buying heavy-duty trimmers instead of full clippers. Trimmers are designed primarily for tidying up clips and the areas around the ears and muzzles, but there are a number of more powerful types that are rechargeable and capable of dealing with coarser and more abundant hair.
Always oil your clippers before and after use and keep oiling them throughout the clipping process. Once the blades lose their sharpness you will need to send them away for re-sharpening. Be careful not to drop the unit on a hard surface as you could damage both the clippers and the blades. Always buy the very best that you can afford, as with care they will last you for many years.