Do we need to have a “last clip of the year”?

Do we need to have a “last clip of the year”?

Traditionally, we were always taught that the last clip of the year needed to be by 31st January.  This was to ensure that clipping didn’t interfere with the change of coat as the old winter coat gave way to a new summer one. Some traditionalists will still never clip after the end of January, but many will happily clip all year round, or judge the timing of the last clip depending on the type of coat and competitions that they are doing.


Comfort should be of prime consideration, and with the dynamics of equestrianism changing, many horses are expected to compete during extreme conditions, which will necessitate clipping during the summer months especially if competing in abroad.  We have noticed an increase in the use of clippers during the summer months over the last couple of years due to the better weather here in the UK. Competition horses need to be turned out to a high standard and look good, but the necessity for perfection in their coats is not as extreme as in the showing world.  A few lines left on a show jumper or an event horse, would not be frowned upon in the same way as in the show ring.


Different breeds will grow varying densities of hair, and the re-growth on natives can be tricky.  Timing for clipping these types are paramount to ensure that they enter the ring with a gleaming summer coat.  The only way to assess this correctly is knowing your horse and how his coat reacts during the winter months, and then being able to time it accordingly for the last clip. This can be any time between the end of January to even as late as April depending on the colour and coat conditions. 


As an example, our native welsh ponies will often need clipping by February to give time for the coat to come through with no signs of lines.  Darker colours can sometimes get away with being done a few weeks later. Shetlands, Exmoor and Dartmoor ponies if wintered out, and have a double coat, need careful timing, and may be better given their last clip in early January to enable the natural colouring of the coat to grow through.

Heavier breeds, especially cobs, are prime candidates for being clipped regularly all year round.  During the winter, it wouldn’t be a surprise to be clipping every 3-4 weeks, with legs and hogging every two weeks. This usually carries on through the summer, and with careful blending techniques, the main body of the horse can sometimes be left longer but with legs and hogging being done every two weeks to blend in with their existing coat.


When clipping a summer coat, to get the finish required for the show ring, bear in mind that the colour will take a 7-10 days to re-establish.  Hot clothing is a great way to encourage the shine back into the coat, and if this is done on a regular basis and additionally before and after clipping, this will give it a real boost and give highlight to a dull coat. To read more on hot clothing, click here.

Rugging up well before and after clipping will also help keep the coat in good shape.  Fortunately, there are now specialist blades that skim over the coat and these are perfect for taking off the cat hairs and for not interfering with the base layer.  These have become popular with the showing world, particularly prior to the later shows in the Autumn such as Horse of the Year Show. 


So, to answer the question does the last clip have to be at the end of January? That clearly all depends on you and your horses’ individual needs.  If you need to clip, then clip.  If you are lucky to have a horse with a fine coat that can carry you through the year without seeing a set of clippers at all, then happy days!






5th February 2020

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