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!
Prep For Body Clipping
If you have body clipped in the past, you are familiar with the routine. Before your horse gets body 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 fewer lines. Our favorite trick is to mix vetrolin and conditioner with water in a bucket. Once having applied it with a sponge sweat scrape it off like you would have if it were just vetrolin. This makes for a super soft coat your clippers will glide through. 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.
Make sure you have all the proper supplies for a good body clipping experience. For optimal success when body clipping be prepared with the following… You will want multiple pairs of clipper blades so as one collects dirt or gets hot you can swap it out. When you swap it out allow the blade at rest to sit in blade oil. If you don’t wish to purchase multiple blades we recommend a blade coolant spray to help your blade cool down faster and prevent any burning of your horse’s skin. Be sure to have a dandy brush to wipe away any excess hair that builds. Depending on your barn, having an extension cord is always helpful too.
“Start your horse on ExcelEQ for at least a week or two prior to clipping.”
Tips to Keep a Dark Horse’s Coat Color Post Body Clip
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 body 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 health 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. The 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!