How to Customize Your Clip for Winter

By Liv Gude

There’s no hard and fast rule about the best clip for your horse, and you certainly don’t have to follow any photo that you see on the internet of a specific pattern.  You can easily make your own design, tailored to your horse’s needs.

What it really boils down to is how your horse sweats and what measures can you take to keep him comfortable after you have clipped him.  Blankets are often needed, and this might influence what type of clip he gets!


The first and foremost reason for clipping your horse in the winter is his health and comfort.  It is not healthy or comfortable for your horse to exercise and sweat in a winter coat.  He will have an increased chance of overheating, he will be difficult to return to a normal body temperature, he will take a long time to dry, and the sweat mixes with dirt and dust on your horse’s skin and can lead to skin problems.

Your climate will also tell you if he needs to be clipped.  There are many horses in the world that live in warmer climates with excessive hair coats.  Clipping can definitely make your horse happier and more comfortable in weather like this.

Some things to keep in mind as you are deciding where to remove some hair from your horse:

Where does he sweat?  Common areas to create some air conditioning for the sweaty horse include under the neck, around the flank, and in between legs.  Your horse will also sweat in the saddle area, but it may be best to leave this hair so your tack isn’t in direct contact with his super short hair.  A sweaty saddle area is much easier to dry than your entire horse. A fleece cooler usually does the trick to dry the saddle area as you groom after exercise.

Can you effectively use a blanket to make up for the air conditioning that your horse needs?  If he has some significant air conditioning clipped in, a blanket will be needed.  But – you may find then that some hairy parts remain too warm under the blanket.  In this case, opt for a clip that removes more hair over the parts your blanket will cover.

You can also vary the length of the hair that remains after you clip your horse.  You can use blades that leave 3 mm of hair instead of 1.8 mm of hair.  You can also use clipper guards to take just some off the top, as the saying goes.  Remember that it grows back, and if you start out clipping some off and it’s not enough, you can always come back and remove just a little more with a different blade or a different guard.

How do you customize your horse’s winter clip?