Talk to me about spring clipping


You have all talked me down from the clipping ledge many times before.

So here I return, to ask further questions.

I’m seeing a lot of people doing spring clips to get ahead of shedding. It’s warming up more quickly here in Vermont than I anticipated, and I’m holding back a bit on my rides because it’s warm enough to sweat with hard work but not yet warm enough to rinse horses off.

remnants of winter’s clip

So I find myself pondering a spring clip, to take out the winter fuzz and get us to the endpoint faster.

Realistically, I can’t accomplish this for another couple of weeks, so it may all be beside the point.

But what should I keep in mind when thinking about doing a spring clip?

Is there such a thing as too late to do it? How about too early? (He’s still wearing his sheet and we will continue to have a frost threat overnight until late May.)

Is there a setting I should use on the clippers – perhaps not go as close? Use different blades? (Pretend I’m stupid, and educate me in small words.)

Is it even worth it? Should I just stick it out with my shedding tools?

How do you decide whether to just let your horse shed out or clip him?

picture like 10x more hair; I took this picture 3 weeks ago


Clipping Update

Somehow, every year, I manage to make clipping my horse into some kind of saga. This year, I wavered about what kind of clip to do, and decided on Irish…sort of.

Then, when it came time to update the clip, well, this happened. I apologize in advance for the pain this video may cause.

A video posted by Amanda G. (@beljoeor) on Jan 1, 2017 at 2:40pm PST

Yeah, that was a no-go. It left poor Tris looking like he’d been chewed on by moths, and I didn’t even finish updating the whole clip. He had to live with that for a few weeks while I angsted about what to do: buy nice new clippers? get new blades for my current clippers? just get my current blades sharpened? figure out what else was wrong with the current clippers by sending them in for refurbishment? I am the queen of waffling, especially about things I was going to have to spend money on.

poor moth-eaten mustang

Then: Hannah came to the rescue! She had her old clippers still, and she brought them up to me this past weekend, and Tuesday night I tested them out AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.

I swear, next I’ll work on straight lines.

So glorious that I finally got around to doing the design I’d planned on! Mixed success, since I hadn’t cut out a stencil and was sort of half-winging it. I’m still happy with it. I have some lessons learned that I can use to apply to his butt on the other side. Poor Tris was deeply wiggly by the time I got to his butt, and I decided to let him be done.

Fastest mustang alive! Like his inspiration, he also makes many bad decisions.


blog hop · clipping · giveaways

Blog Hop Raffle Results

You might have forgotten that I did this, but I definitely didn’t!

The winner of my horse clipping blog hop is…

Ashley of The Feral Red Horse!

Thanks, Ashley! Check your email!

I hope to do more of these in the new year, so keep an eye out.

Thanks to everyone who participated, commenting or participating in the blog hop. It really helped me to think through what I’d do with Tristan. I ended up doing a modified Irish clip; I had every intention of doing a full Irish clip, but as I started in on his shoulder I didn’t like how thin the hair was, and I kept thinking about blanket rubs. So I clipped down his chest and onto his stomach a bit, but not over the shoulders.

Here he is halfway through.
And here you can see a little bit how it turned out. I don’t love the line on his neck – I’d like to go up more to his throatlatch – but I’m happy with the rest of it. And I’m happy with the way he’s cooling out.

blog hop · clipping · giveaways

Blog Hop: How are you clipping this year?

Okay: giving this at try, because I really want advice.

So let’s try a blog hop.

How are you clipping your horse this year? More or less than last year? Are you doing any fun designs?

Let’s make this a bit more appealing, too. If you participate in this blog hop, please come back here and tell me you did so to enter to win a $10 gift card to the horse retailer of your choice!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Last year, Tristan got basically a light strip clip: down his throat and to his chest. It helped.

(Oh, and lest we forget, I finally got into the world of detail clipping and he rocked a Rebel Alliance insignia on his butt. I’m still insanely pleased with how that turned out.)

He needs more this year.

Because this happened after 35 minutes of dressage work.

I’m pondering an Irish clip. Not his face, because I do not have a death wish, but something that would expose more throat and more chest & stomach, possibly shoulder. No way am I doing a full body clip (he doesn’t need it, I don’t own the clippers for it, see above re death wish).

I am experiencing my usual seasonal anxiety about taking off too much hair, though. I have no idea what this winter will be like. He has all the blankets he needs, but what if? Ugh.
I also need to decide what to put on his butt. 
Right now, I’m leaning toward making him the Flash or Captain America.


We’ll see!

So: please tell me what you’re doing so I can pick your brains and relieve some of my anxiety.


Clipping Update: My Little Rebel

Remember I asked for ideas about what geeky thing I should clip onto my horse’s butt, My Little Pony style? There were some awesome suggestions, and I mulled them all over.

Being not in the slightest bit artistic, it needed to be something I could transfer easily to a piece of cardboard to create a pattern. I thought and I thought and then I figured it out.


Why yes, my poor long-suffering little mustang is now a member of the Rebel Alliance. (The husband cracked a joke about “Roan Squadron,” proving that he actually does pay attention to horse vocabulary sometimes. We then spent a solid 10 minutes reciting dialogue, which I suppose is one of the reasons we’re married.)
I am so insanely thrilled with how it turned out. It’s not perfect by a long shot, but damn, it looks so cool.
Here was my process, in case you’re curious.

It took some finagling, especially since my clippers are not the sharpest, and Tristan had to be convinced to stand still and within the range of the cord of the clippers while all the other horses were being grained. About an hour start to finish, all things considered, including cutting out the pattern.
I’d do it again in a heartbeat, and probably will keep this design touched up through the winter!
clipping · winter

Clipmageddon 2015

Last year, I angsted almost endlessly about clipping my horse. I asked for opinions, got a ton of awesome thoughts, and then still waffled and flopped around. When I finally got around to it, I was relieved and happy and wondered why I hadn’t done it sooner.

So: I knew without question that I was going to clip Tristan for this season. Then I dragged my heels, shockingly enough.

Then, on Monday, it was warm. Tristan was huffing and puffing and sweaty after just 30 minutes of relatively light work. (Granted, some of that was because he insisted on flailing around, crowhopping, and trying to pull me toward the jumps in the ring at a dead gallop, so it was kind of his fault. 20 years old, huh?)

It was time. So I pulled out the clippers.

Let me just state at the outset that I am like your model of What Not To Do. I had no intention of bathing my horse – it’s November in Vermont, you have got to be kidding me. I own clippers that are a good example of what they are, but are classified as “ear and nose trimmers” so yeah not exactly your fancy $400 body clippers.

I was also too lazy to get an extension cord so I, um, stood on his lead rope to keep him in one place. DON’T BE LIKE ME, INTERNET. Your caveat here is that I know this horse intimately, he is solid for clipping (he was antsy last night because it was dinnertime) and I did actually position myself so I could duck into an empty area off the aisle if he decided to snark about it.

I aimed for a very light trace clip, and used the 0 blade cover. I think I have some more to do, but I will live with this for a week and then update it next week.

…wow I didn’t realize how bad those lines were until just now. sigh.

So there you have it. First clip of the season is out of the way.
I am very seriously considering some kind of My Little Pony style clip on his butt when I expand his current clip. It would need to be some kind of geeky symbol. Suggestions welcome, keeping in mind that I possess exactly zero artistic talent and would need to use a stencil.
clipping · grooming

Spa Day Lite

I have been trying to give my horse a bath allllll summer. I kept trying to line up that ever-elusive free time + good weather + energy & willingness equation, and it never worked.

Yeah, you read that right. I have not bathed my horse all summer. I am the worst.

I have scrubbed off some canon crud, and cleaned his sheath. I’ve diligently detangled his mane and tail when they got really bad. But…no bath at all.

I hoped to do it this past Monday, but our temps are officially into fall. Unless we get a whopper of an indian summer in the next few weeks, it’s just not going to happen.

On the other hand, my horse looks like a ragamuffin. Good grief.

Not even a hint at a bridle path. Sigh.
So instead of giving him a bath, I finally decided to do at least a small something: reclaim his bridle path.
Apparently I did a really, really good job getting him used to the clippers last year when I did a bib clip for the first time, because as soon as I turned them on he started mugging me for treats. GOOD PONY!
Ahhhhhhh, much better. I chose to make it a little more narrow this time around; the last few I’ve been less than thrilled with the wide swath that I took.

Tristan’s Very First Clip

Confession time. I had decided some time ago to clip Tristan; thanks to the excellent advice I got from everyone, I’d been swayed by the pro arguments, and had decided on a bib clip. Then I ran out of time on the day I had intended to do it, and put it off. And put it off.

Yesterday, it was in the 50s during the day. I had the day off, and thus all the time in the world. And I still drove to the barn with my stomach roiling, worrying, fussing. I even had this blog post half-composed: why I am terrified to clip my horse. I pictured everything that could possibly go wrong going wrong. Most of all, I couldn’t stop thinking about the winter to come, and the two horses in the barn that colicked last week (two totally different kinds of colic, both freak occurrences; one horse pulled through fine at the barn, the second is still at the clinic after surgery).

I rode for about 30 minutes, and after 6 minutes of trot Tristan was puffing like a steam engine and almost a bit damp. I was so frustrated with myself for letting him get into that situation because I was afraid, so I put him in his stall and assembled my tools.

My clippers. After some fits and starts, I finally got them running smoothly.
I started down at Tristan’s chest, and after a few treats he let me do pretty much whatever I want. Best pony!

I had always wondered what color he’d be when clipped. Answer: even more roan! I’d always had a theory that his red hairs grew longer than his white ones in the winter, and that’s why he looks more dark red. Guess I was right!

As you can see, I have a lot of learning to do – and some clipping to go yet. I got a decent strip done and decided to let him be done, because he was behaving so well.
Tomorrow or the day after I will extend the clip back further down his chest a little bit, to just behind the girth line.
Definitely my worst spot – right up under his jowls. I couldn’t get him to stretch so that I could make it even.
Here you can see about the width up his neck. I really kept the edge right at the jugular groove. I miiiiiight widen it at some point in the future. We’ll see how he does with this.

Funny colored hair!
Honestly, he was so good I probably could’ve done him ground-tied. GOOD BOY. As it was, I had to unhook the far cross tie so that I could bring him closer to the wall. The cord on my clippers is like 3′ long, maybe. I barely got it to the other side of him.
It doesn’t look like as much when I put it all into a pile. You can see some bits of mane too: I finally trimmed his bridle path, after threatening to for months.
And when he was done, he was D-O-N-E, done. Exhibit A of Tristan behavior: pawing when bored. Exhibit B: looking adorable.

Today it’s warm again, and then winter will set in for good. He’s got his full range of blankets ready, and hopefully now he’ll cool off faster and easier.

I’m really glad I went through with it. Soon after I clipped the first hair (not going to lie, there were some hesitation cuts there with little fluffy bits of hair in the air and my stomach doing flip flops), I immediately set in to the job at hand and felt fine about doing it. None of the angst I thought I might have.

I’ll report back on how we’re handling it going forward.

clipping · winter

Clipping Tristan: Decision Time

Okay, you all convinced me. I’ll give Tristan a bib clip (neck + chest) next Monday, when I have the most time and daylight hours.

Last night, he was warm and puffing after just 25 minutes of walk and trot work, some canter. Not okay.

I have really, really basic clippers. They do the job for a bridle path and for cleaning up his fetlocks, but I guess I’ll find out if they will do anything more than that.

They’re not exactly these clippers, but pretty close. The package says they are for trimming ears and doing whiskers. (I have zero intention of ever doing Tristan’s ears or whiskers. I like his head natural, and also, he’d kill me.)

There will be pictures. Pray for us both.

blanketing · clipping · winter

Should I clip my horse?

I’m really struggling with this question this year, so I thought I would do a straight-up pros and cons list. I’m going to present Tristan as an anonymous case study, and ask you all to weigh in on what you think. Ok?

Background: horse is a 19yo mustang gelding in work 3-5 days per week for 20-45 minutes each, primarily dressage and trail riding. Never been clipped before. Not a huge sweater (rarely more than a slightly damp/tacky coat in the girth and chest area once the weather cools), but typically does get warm enough to require extended cooling off time 1-2x per week over the winter.

– horse exhibited signs of cold weather-related colic when temperatures began dropping this season, and will now be fully blanketed through the winter for the first time ever
– though the plan is to stay at 3-5 rides per week, there will no doubt be periods of time during the winter when 1-2 rides per week at the walk of short duration are the most work he’ll get due to extreme cold or snow
– horse was diagnosed with Cushing’s in August, is maintained on 1mg/day of pergolide, and is essentially asymptomatic on medication, with a totally normal winter coat and no signs of the classic long/wavy Cushing’s coat
– horse is heading into the winter at a body condition of about 5.5/6 after dipping down to a 4.5 or so this fall
– horse lost weight last winter, though not dramatically; say down from a 5 to a
– horse will have access to (essentially) free choice hay through the winter
– horse will have between 4-10 hours per day of turnout, depending on weather
– horse did not add muscle/wind well before starting medication for Cushing’s, and work will be harder for him as he regains fitness now that his body is capable of building it again; he has been running hotter than normal for the last 3-4 weeks

Possibly extraneous factors:
– owner is neurotic and terrified that clipping will result in constant vigilance to prevent cold-related colic symptoms
– owner also does not want to pile coolers and walk out for an hour after each ride

So: in my situation, what would you do?