Whether you love or loathe it, clipping is one of those time-consuming jobs that sneaks up on us as the nights draw in and the temperature drops. One day it’s the height of summer then, almost without warning, you arrive at the yard one day to discover that your horse has sprouted a distinctive and unwieldy pelt, seemingly overnight. Every year, without fail, you think to yourself, ‘how can it possibly be that time of year already?’.
Not sure you’re ready to tackle the task? Stress-free clipping is about preparation, so having all your kit in order and a plan in mind will go a long way to making the job considerably less overwhelming.
Save the date
There’s much debate over when you should clip your horse, but for most people, October is appropriate if he’s in full work. It’s really important that you consider your horse’s winter plans before you clip him – is he going to be in full work for the foreseeable future or are you considering giving him a holiday in the field? If you’re planning on turning him away at the end of the eventing season, for example, a full clip will put him at the mercy of the elements, so you should consider leaving him unclipped or choose a modified style.
Otherwise, when to clip is largely down to preference, but the earlier you do it, the quicker it’ll grow back and the more clips you’ll have to do through the winter. Equally, if you leave clipping too long, your horse will take much longer to dry if he gets wet, be harder to clean when muddy and will be at risk of losing condition due to excess sweating.
Test his reaction
If you haven’t clipped your horse before or you’re not sure how he’ll cope with the situation, it’s worth testing his reaction before you begin. Have a helper on hand to hold and reassure him while you assess his response – if he reacts while tied up, he could panic.
Pick up November Horse&Riderfor your essential guide to clipping, on sale 20 September.