Horse clipping in winter

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Why clip your horse?

As winter approaches, horses' coats thicken to protect them from the cold. Aside from the fact that your horse now looks like a giant teddy bear, this can be restrictive, particularly due to significant sweating if the horse is working hard.

The question of clipping should therefore be posed knowing that the clip will be different depending on your horse or pony's intensity of work, their lifestyle, etc.

A turned out horse or one living in the paddock, not working on a regular basis, will not necessarily need to be clipped. You should just take care to dry your horse well after a session of work. If your horse does not grow a long coat, you can plan to cover them during the coldest winter months if needed.


Different types of horse clip

The most common clip styles are:

  • The "blanket" clip  leaves the horse with a natural exercise sheet. The legs, back and loin are protected by hair, which is an advantage for horses exposed to the cold.  If the loins are not clipped and your horse lives indoors, you do not need to put on a rug, or you could just put on a sheet or lightweight rug.

  • The "hunter" clip is recommended for horses that work intensively. Almost the entire coat is clipped except for the head, the saddle area, and the limbs to prevent skin lesions due to rubbing from the harness. Because the loins are not covered, this clip requires you to cover the horse well so that it does not catch cold. Using an exercise sheet will also be necessary in cold weather during warm-ups.

  • The "full" clip is recommended for horses that work intensively or compete regularly. It removes all of the coat with the exception of a small triangle at the tail. This clip requires the horse to be well covered and requires the use of an exercise sheet for cool-downs. It is also recommended not to clip the withers, in order to avoid injuries from significant rubbing.


Clipping the head and limbs is not essential. If you choose to clip these delicate areas, feel free to seek out help. You can also use a finishing clipper to clip these sensitive and hard-to-access areas. It is also possible to only clip half the head to remove the coat around the trough and lower jaw.



  • It is not uncommon to see a small triangle at the base of the tail to avoid clipping the tail hairs by mistake.  
  • To clip the legs, have someone help you by holding the leg forward.
  • If your horse is easily frightened, you can plug their ears to reduce the noise of the clipper.
  • If you ride an unclipped horse, take the time necessary to dry their wet coat, otherwise they might catch cold.


When should I clip?

There isn't really a precise date. It all depends on the climate where you live, and how long your horse's coat grows. As a general rule, the first clipping happens during the fall, when the coat really becomes too long and your mount sweats a lot during work.

To make managing rugs easier, it is useful to wait until the cold has truly set in. In fact, there are sometimes very high-temperature days in the autumn, and you will need to cover or uncover your horse throughout the day so that it is neither too hot nor too cold. This is not always easy if you aren't on site.


How to cover?

Even if your horse isn't clipped, you may need to cover it, particularly if it lives outdoors during the cold months of winter. If you don't know how to cover it, here is a little summary table to help you choose a rug so that your horse is neither too hot nor too cold.

How to cover your horse throughout the winter
Temperature Type of coat
  Not clipped Clipped
Over 15°C Uncovered Uncovered or waterproof sheet in case of rain or wind.
10 to 15°C Uncovered or waterproof sheet in case of rain or wind.

Sheet or lightweight rug    (100g)

4 to 10°C

Uncovered or lightweight rug (100g)

Light- or mid-weight rug (150-250g)
0 to 4°C

Uncovered or mid-weight rug (150-250g)

Mid-weight to warm rug (200-300g)
-10 to 0°C

Uncovered / Mid-weight to warm rug (200-300g)

Warm rug (300-400g)

Under -10°C

Warm rug (300-400g)

Very warm rug (300-500g) + under-rug if needed

Your horse's age, general health, breed, natural coat, and lifestyle (time spent outside, access to shelter, etc) are all factors to consider when determining how to cover your horse.

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