Their horse! Your child’s trainer may have suggested, or required, that your horse be “bodyclipped”, which is very similar to the summer cut your neighbor’s Golden Retriever gets every year. But what exactly is bodyclipping and why is your trainer requesting it - perhaps not even in the summer? We’ll take a look at that now and then get into what to expect in the next installment.
An example of a dog that's been "bodyclipped".
Aside from a closer hair cut, what is exactly is bodyclipping? Bodyclipping is when the body hair of a horse is shaved down using a set of professional grade animal clippers. The horse won’t be shaved down to the skin, but instead, a short length of hair will be kept, usually in or around the 2mm length. There are varying styles of bodyclips, from a “strip clip” which just takes a narrow strip of hair from under the horses jaw, down their neck, to their chest, to a “full clip” in which everything but a small /\ shaped patch of hair will be left above the tail, the mane, forelock, and tail itself will be left. There are a variety of styles in between, so be sure to check with your child’s trainer to determine exactly which clip they are wanting the horse to get.
Why, exactly, does a horse need to be clipped like this? There are a number of reasons why a horse may need to be clipped, and the reason may affect the type of clip the horse needs.
The most common reason in our area for a horse to be clipped is for show. A full clip for the competition horse usually produces a shiny, well-kept appearance that is pleasing to the judge’s eye. It also means that if the horse sweats during the competition, it will be easier to tidy up between classes and easier in general to maintain and keep in top condition. When clipping for show, a full clip is the expectation as the patterns of other clips can cause optical illusions of imbalance and are considered more “casual” in appearance.
You can see how a full clip, like this CLIPclop client has, can
really boost the shine factor for competition horses.
The second most common reason in our area is for medical purposes. Some horses have conditions which affect their hair growth or sweat patterns. Conditions like Cushings often prevent the horse from shedding out its winter coat whereas conditions like Anhidrosis limit a horse’s ability to sweat. By clipping horses with conditions like these, we are better able to monitor their symptoms, body temperature, and comfort. A full clip is still often the preferred style for these horses, but any clip that removes hair from the main surface area of the horse will do the job.
Older horses, like this CLIPclop client, and horses with certain medical conditions may benefit from being clipped to help regulate their temperature and to better monitor body condition. A Hunt Clip like this can do the trick.
Lastly, a trainer may request that a horse be clipped to help manage time spent cooling and grooming. Particularly in winter months, horses who are worked heavily or regularly, such as lesson horses or horses in training, will work up a heavy sweat that leaves their heavy winter hair damp. Just as you wouldn’t want to work out in a velour track suit and then stand, damp, in the cold weather for hours afterward, it is medically dangerous to leave a hot, wet horse standing in a cold stall. Instead, trainers and riders have found that clipping these horses cuts down on the cooling and dry time after riding. Having the long, wooly hair removed also makes visual inspections of grooming and wellness faster and easier for trainers. Even if your child isn’t planning on showing and the horse doesn’t have a medical condition, you may find it beneficial for the horse to be clipped so that you don’t spend hours after your child’s lesson walking a hot horse, waiting for it to dry. The type of clip your horse gets in this scenario will depend on the horse’s workload, living situation, and trainer preference.
This CLIPclop client’s Chase Clip (also called an Irish Clip) can help reduce the amount of time spent cooling
down and drying in winter months by removing thick hair and better exposing the skin and blood
Vessels while still keeping large muscle groups across the back and hindquarters warm.
In the next installment, we’ll discuss what to expect when having your horse bodyclipped and how to prepare for the appointment.
Morgan Osbaldeston is a professional bodyclipper based out of Roswell, GA. She established her company CLIPclop in 2012 after years of clipping friends’ horses. She has two horses of her own, Timi and Preston, and her trusty sidekick, her Bernese Mountain Dog, Bentley. You can find CLIPclop on Facebook and Instagram.