Monday, November 21, 2011

To Clip or Not to Clip...

Fall is here, winter is coming, and yet today the temperature reached a blazing 75 degrees F. It was way to gorgeous of a day to not ride so off I went to my NEW barn!!! Ok so I might also add that I've moved!!! Not just moved barns, but completely moved cities!!!!! I am soooooo much happier in this new place, even though I haven't been here very long, but it's always a good thing when you find yourself smiling as you drive down the road right? Yes... a very good thing!!!!

So back to the barn... The past week of riding I have been challenged by the amount of hair that Gus has. When it was cold I didn't want to work him to hard because I wouldn't be able to dry him out before the sun set, and today poor Gus was sooo hot that I had to cut our ride short because he was having difficulties cooling down. He's decently fit (for the amount of work I put him through) and today he didn't stop puffing until I was able to douse him with cold water- so this brings up the age old question- to clip or not, and if clip, what kind of clip?

Pros of Clipping:
   Easier to clean after riding!
   Cooler for horse in work (especially where I live- see today's weather temp!!)
   Can do fun designs (though coming up with the "perfect" design can be tricky...)
   What shedding season???

Cons of Clipping
  More blanketing required
  Horse might look ugly (bad clip job, or not pretty color after clipping-usually bays!)
  costs $ or hours of your day (depending on how fast you are!)

If I do end up clipping a horse I always try to wait till after Thanksgiving. This way I only have to clip once! If you clip to early they grow their winter coat back and you either have to clip again, or deal with shedding season. Also if you clip to late (after they start to shed) it could mess up summer coat growth.

Some people leave lights on to prevent their horse from growing a coat (since it's daylight hours that tells a horse when to start growing/shedding). Personally I hate this, it probably costs more in extra electrical usage than just clipping the horse! One person I know leaves the lights on all winter and then her horses start to grow winter coats in March/April when they should be shedding! Then she has to clip the horses because they're to hot for the summer...(where is the logic in this? She ends up clipping anyways!!!) I know some breeds standards (show quarter horses come to mind) tend to favor this system but it's not my favorite way to keep a horse's coat short, but if you're showing your horse in those type of breed classes through the winter then I guess it's what you have to do? Good thing eventers don't care!!!

So after much deciding, ok not really- Gus is getting clipped!!! It's time to figure out what type of clip to use. Depending on work load/ blanketing abilities/shelter options this can be more difficult to figure out. The four main types of clips you see are: Hunter clip, Trace clip, Body clip, and Blanket clip.

Personally I would never body clip my horse, but that is mainly because of the type of weather my horse tends to see in the winter. Body clipping is fine for the horse down in Florida/warm climates or have access to warm blankets, leg wraps, and a warm stable for the cold days. If my horse is in serious work I tend to do a Hunter clip so that the legs can stay warm because I can't always go out to the barn to wrap legs (think road closing weather conditions) plus the hair on the legs gives them protection from sticks and brambles and things that you might run across when trail riding or fox hunting (hence it being called a "Hunter" clip- ah ha!) I also find the so called Blanket clip a bit backwards. Why take all the hair off the neck but leave the back? I guess if you don't have adequate blankets and need to keep their back warm then this makes sense, but I'd rather do a reverse blanket clip and leave the top part of the neck hairy (like the neck on a trace clip) and clip off the hair under the blanket (but leave a patch under the saddle- for protection). This way when horse is standing outside he can keep his neck warm and stay snuggly under a nice thick blanket.

The best part (in my opinion) about clipping is the quarter marks!!! You can add some fun and flair to any horse or pony by stenciling a design onto their bums! There are some really neat ones out there, and also the typical fun ones (hearts, stars, etc) But clipper beware! If you are clipping into the coat you better be an artist!!! Your design can only get bigger if you make a mistake!!! If you're clipping around the design you can always shave it off if it looks bad, but alas your "easel" is a one time use (until next year or another horse!)

And now I need to go think about what Gus's design is going to be...and hope that I'm skilled enough to do it!!! I'll try to post pictures after Gus's clip job- which will hopefully be done in the next week or so!!!! Goodbye hair!!!