It’s Autumn, which for many horse owners means that the dreaded clipping season is here. Time to get covered in spiky, irritating little hairs that stick to every part of your body (including your eyes) in a bid to make your horse more comfortable.
It’s no surprise that we horse owners put ourselves through this. After all, it’s very little compared to the pain of standing in a knee-deep field of mud in the pouring down rain, freezing cold whilst your horse is tucked in nicely in their stable. Horse owners are all about making their horse’s lives better, which is why we’ve put together our helpful guide to keep your horse comfortable when clipped.
Preparation is Key – A clean, well-prepared horse will be much easier for you to clip, and it is a much more pleasant experience for them. Give your horse a thorough bath or intense groom before you clip to remove as much grease and dirt as possible. Just make sure the coat is completely dry before you clip to prevent the blades from snagging on the coat.
Keep it Cool – Clippers do tend to heat up with use, so keep this in mind when clipping so as not to harm your horse. Remember to stop and give your clippers a break for them to cool down and make sure to regularly oil them whilst you clip.
Clean Up – Once you have clipped, remove all the loose hair with a thorough groom or bath (your horse will love you…!) to prevent irritation. Clean rugs will also help, so take a look at them during the summer months to make sure they’re suitable for your horse.
Comfort is Key – Many horses become more sensitive once clipped. Make sure your saddle pads are clean and dry before use and keep an eye on the saddle and girth areas for any rubs. You may need to use a girth sleeve if your horse becomes irritated or consider anatomical girths. This article from The Saddle Bank explains what an anatomical girth is and why it may suit your horse.
At PolyPads, we regularly receive calls from customers whose horses are rubbing in their standard saddle pad. There’s a lot to consider when saddle pads rub, but the first thing we advise is to make sure the saddle pad is big enough. If the saddle pad sits on the binding, it will immediately create a pressure point that will irritate your horse.
The next step is to consider the shape of your saddle pad. The front and rear of the saddle pad should be pulled up into the gullet of your saddle; many saddle pads are now tapered along the spine to encourage the rear of the saddle pad to sit above the spine. As it is the rear of the saddle pad that causes the most problems, take a closer look at the manufacturing finish. Many brands join the binding at the rear of the saddle pad for aesthetic reasons, but this often causes horses to rub. For this reason, PolyPads are finished at the side for a more comfortable fit.
Another thing to consider is the shape of your saddle pad. We often find that horses with a short back, or a large hind end movement are more comfortable in a numnah-style saddle pad compared to a ‘square’ saddle cloth, as the numnah-style pad follows the saddle and doesn’t interfere with the horse’s movement.
Keeping Cosy – Of course, when we clip our horses we also rug. Choosing the right weight rug for your horse depending on external conditions is key to keeping them comfortable. All horses feel the cold differently, so closely monitor your horse’s temperature to find the right balance.
It’s important to remember this when riding, too – if you’re going for a quiet hack or light schooling session, consider using an exercise sheet to keep the hindquarters warm. This Polar and Sherpa fleece one from our sister company Comfort Zone Equestrian is a popular choice for winter riding. Perfect for cold days or quiet rides!
If you have any more ways to keep your horse comfortable once clipped, let us know!