It seems like the shorter the days get, the longer a horse's hair gets. And as all horse owners know, this poses some unique challenges. We still want to ride and keep our horses exercised, but a thick, winter coat makes caring for them more difficult. After exercise, they need to be thoroughly cleaned, but if we bathe them, it takes an eternity for them to dry, and they run the risk of getting chilled.
One solution to this problem is to partially or fully body clip your horse. Which you choose depends on your horse's living environment and whether or not you are willing to blanket him. If your horse lives outdoors and/or you don't want to keep him blanketed, you can just clip the areas where he sweats the most, such as along his neck, between his front legs, under his belly, and around the girth area and flank. This is also called a trace clip. Unless you live in an area where the temperatures are extreme during the winter months, you will not need to blanket your horse if he is partially clipped.
By removing the thick hair in these areas, your horse will dry more quickly after a good sponging off. Clipping these areas also serves as a cooling mechanism because you are exposing the vascular areas. When you clip the neck, you are exposing the major arteries in the neck to cooler temperatures because they aren't covered by a blanket of winter hair. This, in turn, cools the blood circulating through your horse, which helps to regulate his body temperature so he sweats less.
You can also clip the hair on his lower legs, which will make removing caked mud and dirt much easier. Clipping the long, thick hair under your horse's elbows will also help reduce the chance of developing girth sores.
If you decide to give your horse a full body clip, you must be able to provide with a few things after he is clipped. The most important item is a blanket. By removing his winter coat, you have taken away his only protection from the elements. Blanketing a body-clipped horse in the winter time is a must. If you live in a region where the winter temperatures regularly dip below freezing, you should keep your horse indoors at night and on very cold days, and also consider providing a hood, as well, to keep his neck warm.
The first step in body clipping, either fully or partially, is to start with a clean horse. Thoroughly bathe your horse to remove and dirt and dander that has built up on the coat. If you clip a dirty horse, not only will your clipping job not look as good, but your clipping blades will quickly become dull. Use COWBOY MAGIC® ROSEWATER SHAMPOO to remove sweat and dirt without stripping your horse's coat of its natural oils. Follow this with COWBOY MAGIC® DEMINERALIZER™ CONDITIONER to loosen and dissolve any mineral and chemical buildup, as well as sweat residue. Both products contain panthenol and silk conditioners that nourish and moisturize the hair and coat, which will make your job much easier. Allow your horse to dry completely, then, before you start clipping, spray your horse lightly with COWBOY MAGIC® SUPER BODYSHINE™. This will reduce static electricity while you clip and help you get a clean, even cut.
The higher the blade number, the closer the clip. Use a #10 or all-purpose blade on your horse's body. You want to clip against the direction the hair grows in long, even strokes. Clean your blades with a brush regularly and check them frequently to make sure they the blades are not getting too hot.
When clipping around delicate skin, such as the flank, follow the path that the hair grows, and hold your horse's skin tight as you clip. When clipping around the elbows and girth area, you can move the skin to help make clipping easier. Just be careful, as horses are sometimes sensitive in these areas.
You can blend clipped areas with unclipped areas, such as around the face and legs, by clipping the hair in the same direction that it grows to "comb" the unclipped area into the clipped area. It may take several passes to blend the hair. If you want to leave the saddle area unclipped, you can trace an outline of your saddle pad onto your horse before you clip.
If your horse will tolerate you clipping his ears, you can trim the edges to make them look neater, but don't remove the hair on the back of the ear or inside it. You don't want his ears to get frostbite!
When you have finished clipping, rinse or sponge off the clipped hair and then give your horse an all-over skin and hair conditioning treatment. Dilute a small amount of COWBOY MAGIC® DEMINERALIZER™ CONDITIONER in a bucket of warm water and massage it into your horse's coat with a sponge, then give your horse a good rubdown with a clean, dry towel.
Whether your horse is fully or partially clipped, rinse him or sponge him off following exercise with as little water as possible, and use warm water if you can. Rub him dry with a towel and then cover your horse with a cooler to help wick away the remaining moisture. Keep him in the sun and/or out of drafts until he is completely dry.
For more information about the complete line of COWBOY MAGIC® products, log onto www.cowboymagic.com, or call (800) 755-6844 to find a retailer near you that carries COWBOY MAGIC® quality concentrated grooming products.