Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Body Clipping your Horse or Mule

Naturally a horse or mule will grow a winter coat that sheds out in the spring or early summer, depending on the animal.  Body clipping a horse requires a lot of time maintaining and patience for both the horse or mule as well as the owner.   There are many reasons people body clip, working with your equine during the winter months sometimes makes it harder for it to cool down after the workout.  Once you clip your horse, there are certain responsibilities you must do to help maintain and protect it from the cold.
Blanketing a clipped horse will provide some of the warmth that is lost. But you must check on your horse at least twice a day to see if it needs a lighter weight blanket or sheet in place of the heavier blanket.
Some horse breed societies do not believe in body clipping, and those horse owners may keep a heat lamp near their horse in the winter to fool the hair coat into believing it is still warm.  These can be placed on a timer to turn on and off at designated times during the day or evening.  You will still have to blanket your horse in the winter months, and if you board your horse, you may have a larger electric bill as well.
Deciding when to clip, you must determine how much work you will commit to clipping and caring for your horse afterward.  If you work your horse or mule occasionally, then a clip might not be necessary.  Full body clips for a show horse will help evaporate sweat easier.  A wet coat will not insulate very well, and having a shorter coat will help dry it off quickly.   Make sure you dry it off completely, as blanketing a wet horse will not hold in their body heat.   Depending on your climate, the use of different weights of blankets and sheets are available as well as hoods for colder climates in the winter.
If you do decide to body clip your horse, you will need shearing clippers as well as small clippers.  The small clippers are for the ears, face and small body parts and areas.  Shearing clippers cut down the time it takes to clip the animal overall.  Lubricants are used to keep the blades running smoothly and cool, and keeping a small brush or toothbrush handy will clean out hair and dirt that accumulates in the blade teeth.
Body clipping takes a lot of time, so expect long hours and have lots of patience with your horse or mule.
If your equine is clipper shy, spend extra time in the fall getting it adjusted to the feel of the equipment before using them later.  Make sure the area you are clipping is quiet and free of distractions.  This will help keep your horse or mule calmer and it will be easier for the both of you during the clip session.

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