Tis the season…for body clipping!
By: Nicole Mandracchia
Are you ready for body clipping season? It’s that time of year when the daylight hours become shorter, the evenings get cooler, and your horses start growing their winter coats. What are your immediate clues that their hair is growing? One: your horse won’t dry quickly after a late afternoon lesson, and you know it’s too cold to hose him off before you put his sheet on. Two: when the mud doesn’t curry easily off his hair anymore and you can run your fingers through his long fuzzy coat, it’s time to dust off your clippers!
If you have body clipped in the past, you are familiar with the routine. Before your horse gets clipped, you have to give him a good bath (and possibly ShowSheen him). This will allow your clipper blades to attain a smoother, even cut with less lines. Having a clean horse to body clip also extends the life of your clippers and blades because they are not fighting through caked-in dirt or fungus entangled in your horse’s hair.
Particularly if you have a dark-colored horse (like dark bay or black), you know how challenging it is to maintain that dark color once he’s clipped. Most horses turn a mousey-gray color after getting clipped. Here are some tips to try before and after clipping that will help prevent this rough color change:
“Start your horse on ExcelEQ for at least a week or two prior to clipping.”
Start your horse on ExcelEQ for at least a week or two prior to clipping.
In one of my first blogs, I talked about how shiny the Ashmeadow horses were when we switched over to ExcelEQ ProElite. We started Excel Supplements right around the time that we body clipped all the horses in the barn. The year prior, our horses’ coats were duller and not as rich in color. But the year we started Excel, I noticed an immediate difference as we clipped. The shortened hair maintained its shine and the horses kept their dark colors. Win!
The Omega-3 fatty acids present in Excel products have many healthy benefits, as I’ve stated in my previous What Is Camelina Oil? blog post. Omega-3s help maintain the integrity and color of the horse’s coat, which keeps that gross mousey color away! In addition, horses with skin sensitivity and allergies have greatly benefited from regular Omega-3 supplementation. I could spot our horses anywhere on the showgrounds because their shiny coats stand out in the sea of horses. Of course, once you start feeding Excel, you should continue it after you clip—it will help keep up that shine as your horse’s shorter coat grows back in.
Buy more curry combs.
It continuously amazes me how many people do not curry their horses every day. I’m super observant, and I watch everything and everyone around me. Lots of people always ask me how any of my horses are so shiny, and my response is that I curry them AT LEAST once a day. On a normal day for me, I curry them two or three times a day. Your first step of your grooming routine should be currying your horse’s entire body. Your step after riding or bathing should be currying again. You have to break a little sweat to attain a shiny coat for your horse!
Use turnout blankets when your horse is in turnout.
Sunlight will fade your horse’s dark color. Taking extra steps to prevent this, like using turnout sheets when your horse goes outside, will pay off in the long run. There’s nothing wrong with turning your horse out naked every so often, but blankets help reduce the amount of sun exposure his coat gets. This will help the coat stay darker and shinier longer.
Bathe your horse with soap and water no more than once or twice a week.
A lot of people think that bathing their horse several times a week makes their horse shinier in the long run. But this belief is false—too much bathing with shampoo strips the coat of its natural oils, and it will decrease the coat’s overall shine. Your horse also needs those natural oils to prevent fungus and dandruff from occurring. You can hose your horse off as much as needed, but using soap should not be your go-to on a daily basis.
Avoid using alcohol on your horse’s coat.
This has become quite popular nowadays, especially when your horse sweats after a ride and you want to get rid of the saddle mark without hosing or bathing him. But be aware: repeated and prolonged use of alcohol on a horse’s coat dulls the color and cuts down on the shine. It can also burn and dry out the skin in the area it’s being applied to. My tip is to use a damp towel or sponge with warm water to wipe away the saddle and bridle marks along with your normal brushing routine. It will take a bit of time for the coat to dry and while that’s happening, you can always curry your horse again!
If you’re planning on body clipping your horse, don’t forget to make sure you have appropriate blankets and coolers for him. Make sure the blankets fit him and that they do not rub his shoulders, withers, point of hip, mane, or chest. If you are unsure if your blankets fit properly, ask your trainer or barn manager to assist you. Happy clipping!
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About the Author
Nicole Mandracchia (aka “Smiley”) has been immersed in the horse show world for 17 years. She rode and showed in Zone 2 as a junior, attended Centenary College in Hackettstown, NJ, and was the captain of the IHSA team. Nicole has groomed and ridden for several top professionals in the industry, including: Robin Rost Brown, Val Renihan, Missy Clark and John Brennan’s North Run, and Amanda Steege. She has spent a majority of that time traveling up and down the East Coast following the A-rated circuit, including Florida and all the indoor finals. Nicole is also a frequent blogger for The Chronicle of the Horse. In addition, Nicole helped run a successful A-rated and C-rated horse show series in Augusta, NJ, from 2012-2017. Nicole has won four grooming awards in her career: at The Sussex County Farm and Horse Show (2013), The Capital Challenge Horse Show (2018), WEF (2018), and The National Horse Show (2019). Nicole’s most memorable indoors’ experience was at The 2018 National Horse Show when both of the horses she was grooming claimed a tricolor in their respective divisions (Lafitte de Muze was champion in the Green 3’6″ Green Hunter division and Zara was reserve champion in the 3’6″ Green Conformation Hunter division). Nicole owns a Dalmatian named Maddie and her boyfriend Lee also works the horse show scene as an in-gate starter. Writing is a passion of hers and she enjoys sharing tips, funny stories, and advice on anything horse-related!
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