Care & Fitting

A Guide to Clipping

When the temperature drops, the question of clipping often arises. Should you clip your horse? Go au natural? And if you do clip, what type of clip is best for your horse? In this blog, we’ll break out the facts to help with your decision.


Au Natural (No Clip) –


While some lucky horses get to winter in the warmer states of Florida or California, many horses stay up north, enduring the colder months, and of course the elements.


This could mean a few things – Your horse lives outside, or spends a lot of time turned out in various weather conditions. In these cases, we’d suggest leaving your horse with his natural coat. While your horse may still wear blankets when going outside (see Blanketing 101), his longer hair will provide a natural layer of warmth, which may also allow you to use less, or even no layers throughout the winter.


On the other hand, even if your horse doesn’t spend a significant amount of time outside, many horses are given a lighter workload, or time off during this colder season. If you’re still riding throughout the winter, but not working your horse steadily into a sweat, it’s probably best to leave him unclipped. He’ll stay warmer, and in turn, may come out more comfortably when starting your ride.


Full Body Clip –


Is your horse one of the lucky ones that gets to head south for the winter months to compete? If so, you’ll undoubtedly want to clip your horse.


When the temperatures average 70-80 degrees on a typical sunny Florida day, your horse will be very uncomfortable with a full coat. A full body clip is standard for horses that are in work in warmer climates, and also keeps them looking show ring-ready for any planned competition. This way, they can sweat at a regular level and be bathed as needed. If your horse is regularly getting too warm during or after periods of work due to a heavy coat, it can lead to serious issues such as colic.


With a fully clipped horse, you can always add layers of blankets as needed if the weather calls for cooler temps.


Partial, or Trace Clip –


Does your horse or riding routine land somewhere in between? If so, then a trace clip, or blanket clip might be your best bet.


A trace clip is a great option if your horse is staying in light work, while wintering in colder weather. This type of clip allows your horse to keep his natural coat in certain places, while losing hair in the areas where he’ll likely sweat the most. This clip job “traces” along the horse, lightening the amount of hair on his lower neck and chest, girth area and haunches. This way your horse can comfortably work, without breaking into a serious sweat due to having too much hair on his body. In the colder months, it can take a very long time for sweat to dry and a sweaty, cold horse can lead to an unwell horse.


There are other variations of the trace clip, including a blanket clip or just clipping your horse’s lower neck and chest area.


If you think a trace clip might still leave too much hair on your horse for the amount of work you’re doing, a blanket clip is a great option. A blanket clip, is really just a trace clip, but includes clipping the horse’s entire neck and head. His remaining coat will resemble a “blanket” of hair.


On the other hand, if a trace clip seems to be too much for your horse who may be in very light work, or gets a little colder, you can go ahead and just clip his chest and part of his lower neck for a “bib clip”. This will keep him warm but will keep him dry and sweat-free.


Other –



If you’re really feeling creative, or you’ve got an artistic clipper working on your horse, you can also create some fun designs within your overall clip job. We’ve seen stars, snowflakes hearts and more! (Editor’s Note: Make sure to get approval from your trainer or owner on this first!)


Have questions? Call any of our stores to speak to one of our riders (aka. store associates)!