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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Somebody got a haircut

I’m embarrassed to admit where I think my camera is. I’m pretty sure my camera is hanging in the barn on my bridle rack…..because my bridle is mysteriously on the front seat of my truck.

Yep – just a little scatter brained right now.

So, unfortunately I don’t have snazzy pics to show you’all of my very first clip!

But don’t worry, there’s always plan B. Because there’s a lot of different vocabulary used to describe different clips, check out this site so we can all be on the same page:

I don’t typically clip for a couple of reasons. I feel like the horse is a wonderful animal and that most of its parts – hair included – is there for a reason. I think when you go clipping hair off or doing other “modifications”, there is a certain risk, or “unintended consequences” that must be considered. Up until this point, the benefits of clipping have not outweighed the potential risks. A couple of things have swung the balance this year:
  • The barn I’m at now offers a blanketing service. If I clip too much off, I know that I still have other options besides me going out to the barn to blanket/un-blanket as needed.
  • By May the goal is to do a First Level dressage test at a recognized show. As a result I’m riding some serious dressage 4-5 days a week. I simply do not have the time to cool her down and get rid of the sweat on a daily basis. Remember my goal to spend more time doing the things I enjoy and eliminating as much stress and time-consuming chores for now?
  • It could be quite warm at 20MT this year.
  • During hot winter rides where a lot of sweat is deposited on Farley’s hair, it is difficult to groom off – especially after a ride in the cool hours of the evening (or wee hours of the morning) when it’s inappropriate to sponge. Invariably she ends up with rain rot on any groomed areas that were stiff with sweat. There are advantages and disadvantages of a thin skinned horse…..

When I’m choosing a clip, I keep a couple considerations in mind:

  • Hair must remain in areas where it’s critical to have protection. For Farley, these areas include: the girth area and under the saddle, legs, face (because of running into branches/overhanging twigs at night.). I would prefer hair to remain on her chest for protection against brush, but because SOMETHING has to be clipped, I usually say “OK” to clipping the chest since her breast collar doesn’t rub, and most of my winter rides are desert rides where I’ve never ended up busting through brush on a single track.
  • Enough hair must remain that she won’t get chilled during the night portion of a 100, or in the early morning start with just a rump rug.
  • When in doubt, leave more hair. She doesn’t have a super thick winter coat, and Farley cools very easily and deals with heat well, so I would rather error on the side of having to go slower in warmer weather, than worrying about her getting cold.
  • Clip must be acceptable at a recognized dressage show.

Based on all this information, I decided on the “Belly and neck clip” that stops short of the girth. Its’ actually more of a “chest and neck clip”, leaving the chest and jugular exposed for better cooling.

I gave the clip its first real test this afternoon – I did enough galloping and cantering at noon to get her nice and sweaty. The current clip was enough to help her shed the heat easily and make clean-up a BREEZE, but it also leaves enough hair that I don't have to be super concerned about blanketing or if it gets cool. I was also able to see the areas that I'll clip if I decide to clip more hair off - namely in the flank area – based on the sweat pattern.

The current forecast for 20MT is in the low 60’s, so I think the belly and neck clip is perfect. If the forecast predicts warmer weather (mid 70’s) I’ll probably do something between a “Chaser” and a “Trace” (but not clipping half the face since it looks stupid and there seems to be no point….), with the focus on the flank and inner thighs, while leaving most of the hair on the belly for protection.

The nice thing about “progressive” clips is that I can adjust the clip throughout the season as my needs change. My funky “not quite a trace clip” I do for 20MT can be converted it to a more conventional “low Trace” clip for my dressage show in the beginning of April. Because clipping is semi-permanent (at least for the next couple of months!) I think it’s important to consider my competition schedule, type of competitions, and how the clip can evolve. I still prefer the look of my horse in the un-clipped “natural” state, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy the ease at which she cooled and cleaned up today! And I’ll also admit that I found clipping fun – exploring all the little nooks and crannies. :)


  1. Thats the clip I did for Boomer last winter! I just did between his front legs, up his chest, and along the underside of his neck. He looked a little funny, but it was a very efficient clip!

  2. I want to see pictures, even though I know you can't possibly do a worse job than my clip job on Fee!


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