A guest post by Liv of Proequinegrooms.
Let’s take away all notions of how your horse looks. Focus on his health and comfort, and then decide if clipping him in the spring is a good idea or not.
There’s a good chance that a springtime clip will help him regulate his body temperature a bit more as spring warms up. The main thing is to take off the hair that’s making him sweat.
Sweaty horses with thick coats tend to get overheated and trap things like skin funk and infections in their coats, and generally take a long time to dry. The main thing is to take off the hair that’s making him sweat. This helps all of those situations.
For horses that only sweat in a few locations, it’s totally fine to custom make a clipping pattern. Common places to give your horse some air conditioning include around the flanks and under the neck.
Another option is to use clipper combs or guards. These stand the clipper blade a set distance, and you end up doing just a trim. For horses with sensitive skin and are prone to being gritty and sweaty and with skin funk, skip this. This is best for horses that dry quickly already and just need a trim all over.
You may have some concerns about how he’s going to look. Well, depending on how much you clip off, he may look like he has a trace clip or he’s been fully body clipped. Or he may look like a blotchy weirdo, but this usually happens if your horse and/or tools and clippers are not clean and oiled.
Know that your horse’s coat is ALWAYS turning over and going through the growing and shedding cycle. If it turns out that you clip off the tips of his new coat coming in, no biggie. It will be replaced over the summer.
A few things to consider when you are clipping your horse:
Make sure you have some sheets available for cooler weather and chilly nights. This will also help your horse stay clean.
You may need to switch to softer brushes after a clip, as it will be a whole new feel for him while grooming. Most horses are just fine to use their regular brushes, but some are more sensitive than others.
Treat your horse as if he was going to a show before you clip. Use one of those warm spring days to bathe him, then use a grooming oil like Shapley’s No. 1 Light Oil to condition his coat before clipping.
A clean and shiny horse is easiest to clip and won’t yank his skin. Silicone sprays can work, but they sometimes contain alcohol, which is drying to both your horse’s skin and your clipper blades.
Use razor sharp clipper blades that have been oiled. Clipper oil is critical, and it’s not the same as spray lube or coolant! You should be oiling your clipper blades about every 5 minutes when you are working.
If you find that your clippers are catching, lagging, not cutting well, or otherwise misbehaving, do some investigation. Add more oil. Then switch to another blade.
Then consider that your clipper motor is lagging and needs service. Your horse’s hair coat may be too thick for a trimmer style clipper, and you need to move up to a body clipper or even the larger shear style of clippers.
Follow up with a deep grooming, a rinse if appropriate, and another massage with grooming oil to bring back your horse’s shine.
Enjoy the warm weather!
Liv is the owner of proequinegrooms.com as well as the host of the Proequinegrooms Podcast. A professional groom for Olympic riders, Liv shares her horsemanship knowledge and experience to horse owners of all disciplines!