What’s the best clip for your horse?

Before you fire up the clippers, consider the length of your horse’s coat, his workload intensity and the region in which you live. Only competition horses or horses who work very often are usually clipped. The whole point of clipping is not necessarily to get rid of a fuzzy coat, but to help the horse cool down quicker after work, so that he does not stand in a thick, damp coat of sweat. Ensure that your horse is adequately blanketed during the day and night if he’s clipped, as he won’t have his natural coat to protect him.


Some people start clipping as early as autumn or at the first sign of long hairs, while others wait until the horse has thrown a proper winter coat. You may need to clip as many as three times during a winter if your horse has a tendency to grow his coat back very quickly.

Preparing the coat to clip

The day before or the morning of the clipping day, prepare the coat by ensuring it’s clean and slippery. This is best done by giving the horse a thorough bath, walking him in the sun until he’s dry, and then keeping a clean blanket on him so that he can’t dirty his coat by rolling or lying down. If bathing is not an option, curry-comb the horse until all the dust is out. Then, alternate between a dandy and body brush to get any excess dirt out. Hot-towel your horse to remove any remaining dust.

Clipping types

Full clip

A full clip means removing the entire winter coat, including on the legs, head and ears. Your horse will then have no protection from the cold, so careful stable management will be required on a day-to-day basis. This clip is suitable for horses in hard work and minimal turnout.

Hunter clip

This clip removes most of the coat, but leaves the saddle area and the legs as is. This is ideal for horses in medium to hard work and daily turnout, because it keeps the back and legs warm. You can choose not to clip the head. As with the full clip, you will need to make sure the horse is adequately blanketed when need be.

Blanket clip

The blanket clip means removing hair from everywhere except the back (from the wither to the hindquarter) and the legs. Again, you have the option not to clip the head. This clip is ideal for horses in medium work and daily turnout. It allows the horse some extra warmth, but without excessive sweating during work.

Chaser clip

This clip is similar to the blanket clip, but you leave winter coat on the top of the neck as well. It is also ideal for horses in medium work and daily turnout.

Bib clip

This clip only removes a small amount of hair from the neck and chest area. The bib clip is ideal for horses in light work and can also be used on horses who are turned out throughout winter, as long as they have a proper blanket and access to shelter.


This month, Grooming Services is giving away a set of GTS clippers worth R3,500! To enter, email HQ@panorama.co.za. with ‘CLIPPERS’ in the subject line and a photo of your fluffy horse attached.

The full article appears in the Winter Guide issue of HQ (June 123) > Shop now