Poll Recap: To Clip or Not To Clip This Winter?

Poll Recap: To Clip or Not To Clip This Winter?

Most of the respondents said they keep their horses fuzzy during the winter months.

Photo: iStock

Colder weather is right around the corner, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to hang up the saddle pad until spring. Many riders continue conditioning their horses year-round, despite the colder temperatures.

But what do you do about that long winter hair coat your horse has, which can make cooling out a sweaty horse challenging in cold temperatures? In last week’s poll, we asked our readers if they body clip their horses during the winter. More than 1,100 people responded, and we’ve tallied the results!

Of the 1,114 respondents, 811 (73%) said they do not body clip their horses. But some respondents said they do clip their horses. Some 97 people (9%) said they do a full body clip on their horses, and 58 individuals (5%) opt for a hunter clip. Another 45 respondents (4%) said they choose a trace clip, while 40 people (4%) prefer an Irish clip. Thirty-six respondents (3%) said they opt for a strip clip, and the remaining 27 individuals (2%) said they prefer a blanket clip during winter.

Additionally, more than 70 people shared their thoughts on body clipping:

Some people commented about why they choose to body clip:

  • “If I don't do a trace, then in the spring come shedding time- he has stubborn belly hair!”
  • “My horse stays in work during winter. Body clipping makes cooling out easier.”
  • “I do a hunter clip, but I don't leave the saddle patch. I haven't seen this for years.”
  • “I live in Florida and my mare doesn't sweat, so I have to keep her clipped to prevent overheating!”
  • “We compete in FEI dressage in Florida. Not clipping is not an option.”
  • “My half-pony mare is so hairy I have to clip her twice to keep her in work.”
  • “I do a full clip four times each year due to plush-toy-like coat. It's the only way to keep clean and dry any time of year.”
  • “Actually, I prefer a chaser clip, which is similar to a trace clip.”
  • “We use a modified trace clip, leaving most of the belly covered because our horses live mainly out.”
  • “Depending on the horse and what they are doing, I will use different clips.”

Many people shared why they choose not to clip their horses:

  • “The only winter clipping we do is trimming horses' bridle path for easier bridling.”
  • “They are out 24/7 and need what God gave them.”
  • “My horse is elderly and we don't do any fast work, so clipping is not necessary.”
  • “They keep their lovely winter coats, but are brushed well and kept neat.”
  • “I like to keep my horse as natural as possible.”
  • “I wouldn't even think of clipping his nice, thick, warm winter coat.”
  • “My horses aren't clipped and don't wear a blanket in the winter in Virginia.”
  • “I never clip unless for medical reasons, just cool out longer and brush more.”
  • “He lives outside and we're limited to walking and light jogging, so leaving his hair is best.”
  • “I don't ride enough to justify a winter clip.”
  • “I never clip my horses. I always cool down my horses long enough to dry if they got sweaty.”
  • “My horses grow thick winter coats. I don't blanket them as they always have barn access.”
  • “My horse has a yak coat, is pastured 24/7 with run-in, and never needs blanket in South Pennsylvania.”
  • “In Canada the weather is too cold to clip them. Let their fur be their friend.”
  • “I keep mine blanketed and under lights, so there's no need to clip.”
  • “Mine have full natural coats with 24/7 turnout and blankets for extreme weather. I have no cool-out problems after work.”
  • “My horses live outside with shelter 24/7 and stay ‘au natural.’ ”
  • “No. I spend a lot of time making sure they have full protective coats of fur because I believe it's healthiest.”
  • “It gets too cold here and I don't have a barn, so full coat and blankets for my girls.”
  • “Mine are Icelandic Horses and one Exmoor and are kept out so they need all the coat they can grow.”
  • “I have never clipped any of my horses.”
  • “In our damp wet Northwest climate, they need all the insulation they can get!”
  • “They all live out 24/7 with access to shelters and never wear any blankets in New Hampshire.”
  • “I like my horses fluffy.”
  • “I live in Maine. It's a colder climate but I do ride all winter and have never seen a need to clip.”
  • “No clipping. My mare does fine in MI winters, occasionally coming in for bad weather.”

A few respondents said they don’t currently clip their horses during winter, but have in the past:

  • “I'm no longer riding extensively so no need. I used to do a trace clip on my trail horses, though.”
  • “I used to clip when I showed and lived in California, but not in Oregon where it is colder and I don’t show.”
  • “When I owned, my horses got a dull body clip. Now I just manage broodmares and they stay wooly.”

While others left general comments:

  • “The amount of work the horse is doing determines the type of clip.”
  • “My mare doesn't grow a heavy coat.”
  • “We keep horses that are in training or showing in the heated barn (50 degrees) and under lights.”
  • “I only clip horses that are shown. The others are not clipped.”
  • “I only clip to maintain smooth coat when showing.”
  • “I no longer ride if it's really cold. Luckily, I have a wonderful horse who takes care of me!”
  • “Nothing beats snuggling into the warm, fluffy softness of my horse's full winter coat when I'm cold!”
  • “If you ride a lot in the winter, I would recommend to do a light clip like a trace clip.”
  • “I only clip the mane, not the tail or rest of the body.”
  • “I would clip if my current horse needed it to stay in work.”
  • “But I don't ride much. If I rode more, I would certainly clip!”
  • “My horses live in Florida and none of them grow heavy coats.”
  • “I used to use full body clip when I was showing hunters. Now I only rarely strip clip for events in fall.”
  • “During winter I don't clip, but I blanket. In the spring, I do a trace or Irish clip and blanket.”
  • “I'm planning to try a strip clip this winter, but I have never clipped before.”

You can find additional information on clipping your horse’s coat, learn about how horses in the same climate can grow different hair coats, read about how even well-behaved horses can find clipping stressful, and expand your knowledge of the horse’s hair coat at TheHorse.com! 

This week, we want to know: do you use a scale to weigh your horse's feed and forage? Vote now and share your comments at TheHorse.com/polls

The results of our weekly polls are published in The Horse Health E-Newsletter, which offers news on diseases, veterinary research, health events, and in-depth articles on common equine health conditions and what you can do to recognize, avoid, or treat them. Sign up for our e-newsletters on our homepage and look for a new poll on TheHorse.com.

About the Author

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer

Jennifer Whittle, TheHorse.com Web Producer, is a lifelong horse owner who competes with her Appaloosas in Western performance events. She is a University of Kentucky graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in Community Communications and Leadership Development, and master's degree in Career, Technical, and Leadership Education. She currently lives on a small farm in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.

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