In The Saddle: How to keep your horse in trim

Anita Marsh
Anita Marsh
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So, this weekend saw my horse being clipped for the first time since she was sold to me. And it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought.

She was absolutely brilliant with the hair trimmers and stood very still, save an odd twitch from a fly that kept buzzing around.

Horses naturally develop a thick winter coat to help protect them from the cold. However, if a horse’s coat is too thick, it can cause lots of sweating and be uncomfortable for exercising. Clipping horses is common for those in a regular work regime or competing. It helps them to dry more quickly after exercise, making grooming easier too, as well as helping to maintain a more healthy looking coat.

Last year I couldn’t clip April as she was only on light ridden work, due to recovering from injury, and she was not sweating after being ridden. However, this year she is back to full fitness and in medium work, being ridden five times a week and lightly competed, and her drying off time is taking much longer afterwards.

There are many different styles of clipping a horse – a little bit like the choice we have for our own hair.

Unlike having our own hair cut though, the different styles for horses are based upon a number of practical factors and not fashion.

For example, before deciding whether your horse requires clipping you should take into account the amount of regular exercise your horse does, including whether they are stabled during the day or turned out in a field during winter.

It can also depend on how much your horse sweats after exercise and how much they feel the cold, as this can be very individual to each of our four legged friends.

April has a good selection of rugs to vary through each season so this will help compensate for removing part of her winter coat when she is relaxing in her field as well as to keep her a little bit clean from the mud.

I don’t own a pair of trimmers and, given that they are costly to buy, I chose to pay a friend Sam Waites, who is very experienced in trimming horses as well as working around them in her day job as she works as a horse veterinary assistant locally. You could say she’s April’s very own horsey hairdresser in her spare time.

We decided on a ‘chaser’ style clip. This is good for horses that are in medium work and are turned out during the day in winter. We also lightly trimmed the longer hairs running down the back of her legs to give her a neat finish. Well, I say ‘we’ – Sam did all the hard work. Despite the noisy trimmers, April was fab and let Sam even trim her ears. She wasn’t sure about her muzzle being done, but she still was very well behaved.

Which means poor Sam now has the ongoing job of coming out to us every year as I totally trust her with my mare. Hopefully when we compete in the Hunter Trials out in Belton, we will be a lot less sweaty after the course. Well, the horse will be for sure. Not quite as sure about me. If you would like Sam to trim your horse please send me a message on the column’s Facebook page or through Twitter.