My first pony was a part bred native breed, she’d spent the entire previous winter before I bought her living out on Exmoor.
She had no need of a rug, her coat did the job admirably, but then she wasn’t being ridden, her farmer owner only wanted her from the spring, for the start of the trekking season.
When I bought her, her work changed considerably; she was ridden throughout the year and in the winter, we even went hunting, which meant her coat had to come off – otherwise, the slightest of effort would reduce her to a foaming, sweaty mess.
Come October or November, depending on our horses, we’re faced with a problem – to clip, or not to clip. The answer is really simple enough – if you work your horse during the winter months, then yes, you probably ought to have it clipped.
A sweaty horse is an uncomfortable horse, and not only that, it’s time consuming. You can’t just tip a horse out into a field if it’s all damp, or even leave it in a stable, it’ll catch a chill, and you can’t wash it down, for the same reason.
But it’s not quite that simple. Apart from the fact whether you choose to give clipping a go yourself – perhaps buoyed up by the fact you successfully clip your dog – there’s several clips to choose from, and once clipped, there’s all the rugs to get, a clipped horse will need careful management.
It’s undoubtedly best to get someone who knows what they are doing to clip your horse, to start with at least, but do make sure you are there to hold on.
Then, it’s deciding which clip to go for. A full clip is hardly necessary for the horse who is ridden just at weekends, here a trace clip, where just the neck and belly hair is removed, or even a bib clip, will be best.
There are others, of course, the Hunter clip, where just the saddle patch and the legs are left on, and the less seen, blanket, chaser and Irish clips.
Not all horses will be happy with being clipped, for owners of a nervous disposition, a read of Perfect Manners by Kelly Marks might be a good start.
My current ride is the kind of horse who goes off into a trance when he’s being groomed; he’ll lean on you, and will lift a hind leg high in the air to encourage you to scratch a particular spot. For him, clipping holds no fear – apart from his head that is.
Other horses, however, are sent into a panic though from the vibrating clippers and will need pacifying. The traditional twitch may not be everyone’s choice, it does look rather Medieval, though effective, but there are also Magnesium based calmers, otherwise, it’ll have to be a call to the vet.
Once clipped, and depending on the extent of the clip, the horse will need to be rugged.
Some owners go for many layers, like the Saxon Fleece Cooler, while others will go for bulkier rugs such as the Amigo Heavy Weight Stable Rug 400g with Removable Neck – Exclusive to Ride-away.