Can I clip my horse in the summer?


YES!  You can, and I have actually done it!  Some of us like to keep our horse’s legs clipped year round, but the rest of our horse?  There are some benefits, and some drawbacks, too.


Why would we need to clip our horse in the summer?  Most of us would do so for cooling purposes.  This is especially true if your horse is on the hairy side, for whatever reason.  Horses with Cushing's disease are often late to shed and early to grow a winter coat and can be especially uncomfortable in the summer. 


Cipper guards can help you perfect the summer clip. 

I chose to do a modified trace clip to help my horses cool off during one particularly hot summer.  I clipped a strip from sternum to cheeks, using the jugular groove as a border to the north.  I also clipped a horizontal stripe from hamstring to shoulder, but not the belly.  I know, horizontal stripes are not slimming, but what the heck!  My main reason was to give my guy some fresh air on those areas that are normally coated in sweat during a workout.  Cool down time can shorten, and he will dry faster after a bath.  


Here are a few things to think about when you body clip (totally or partially)  in the summer.  What will you horse do for bug control?  If he’s really sensitive to insects, you may want to rethink this.  Or, you could clip areas that would be covered by a fly sheet when you are not riding.  


Some chestnuts and bays look very different when clipped.  A summer clip on select areas may look funny, so opt for a full body clip if you are hitting the shows. 


You will also need to consider your horse’s color.  White horses have pink skin, and thus are very susceptible to sunburn.  (I have actually seen a white horse that wasn’t clipped with sunburn blisters.)  Chestnuts are usually a pumpkin color and some bays turn a bit mousy when clipped.  If your horse is showing, you may want to clip the whole horse to avoid multi colored stripes or banners.  Or, if that's the look you are going for, please send me a photo!!  I’ll add that one super advantage of having a gray horse is that they are the same clipped or not, so you can barely tell on a gray horse. 


Many of us also adopt different turnout routines during warmer months, so also consider that when you are deciding on a summer clip.  Think about insect control, exposure to the sun, and the ease of using a thin fly sheet for protection.  


Pick your clipper blades wisely! 

Here are some tips on summer clipping, if you choose to do it!

  • Clip where your horse sweats a lot and needs some extra air circulation to cool off.  The underside of the neck is a common area.  You want to avoid clipping under the saddle area completely, let that hair protect your horse under his tack.  I like to leave a saddle pad shaped patch of hair there. 
  • Be very careful where tack meets clipped skin, like the girth area.   When you add sweat, rubs and sores or galls are very likely to form.  
  • Don’t clip too closely at first. You can always clip again if need be (Learn about clipper blades for more info.)
  • Plan on extra bug protection, be it a sheet or your favorite spray.
  • You can also use clipper guards to modify the length of remaining hair. 

Enjoy the ease of cleaning a clipped horse!