Why body clip?

The days are getting shorter, the weather has finally started to cool off, and Fall is officially here! Before we know it, winter will be beating down our barn door and we’ll be bundled up while completing chores. We won’t be the only one’s preparing for winter. Our horses, ponies, and mules will be growing their winter coats too. For our equine friends that get to frolic outside all winter, their long coats are necessary. However, if horses are still in training, heavy work, or showing, they should be body clipped so that they are able to easily diffuse heat and maintain a comfortable body temperature. Additionally, a clipped horse has a very tidy and neat appearance that is ideal for the show ring.

Supplies for success

Collecting all the clipping supplies and setting your space prior to starting will set you and your horse up for success. The supplies needed to clip a horse are relatively easy to acquire: shampoo, towels, chalk, clippers and lubricant.

Ready, set, clip!

Making sure that your horse is clean and dry prior to clipping will help keep clipper blades from dulling. You can then use sidewalk chalk to assist in making the lines for the type of clip you would like to give your horse. Be sure to choose a color that stands out on your horse. Once all your lines are set, start clipping! Most people will start at the rear and move forward and save the horse’s head for last. While clipping, be sure to hold the clippers evenly and close to the body so that all hair is cut evenly.

Types of Blades

#10 Coarse Cut: This is the standard size blade that comes with most clippers. The blade size leaves hair the longest and is commonly used for body clipping.
#15 Medium Cut: This size blade cuts the hair a bit shorter than the #10 blade, making it the choice for clipping the horses head.
#30 Medium or Fine Cut: This size blade is shorter than the #15 blade and is typically used to remove hair from the horses face, inside the ears, and around the nose and eyes.

Types of Clips

Choosing the right clip for your horse is dependent on activity level. If the horse is in heavy work and is sweating consistently, more hair should be removed so the horse may cool more rapidly. It should be noted that clipping a horse, especially a clip where a lot of hair is removed, will result in the horse needing a blanket in cold weather.


The hunter clip is useful for those horses in heavy work. All hair is removed except from the legs. This originates from Fox Hunter that would need to protect the legs from water and mud. A saddle patch is optional to leave and will help protect the back from the saddle. If you are looking for a more polished look then you can lightly trim the hair down the back of the horse’s legs to clean them up.


For horses in more moderate to heavy work, the blanket clip is an excellent option. Hair is left on the horse’s legs and on the back from wither to croup where an exercise sheet would be. This clip provides cooling but offers enough coverage for those turned out regularly.


The origins of this horse clip come from harness as the hair is clipped along areas where the harness traces would have touched the horse. Hair is clipped along the underside and sides of the neck, shoulders and belly and is left intact on the legs and body. The trace clip is a popular one because it removes hair from the areas where horses perspire most and keeps the top of the neck warm.


The Irish clip is ideal for young horses and those in light work as it is quick and easy to do. Hair is clipped from the neck and behind the elbows, where a horse is susceptible to sweating the most, but there is still plenty of coat left on for warmth.

Clip Tips!

  1. Use a clipper model appropriate to the task at hand. You will not want to use a small clipper that is not meant to be
    operated for several hours.
  2. For clipping the body it is wise to choose a wider blade so more hair can be removed per pass.
  3. Practice, practice, practice! In order to become an expert clipper, it will take lots of practice.
  4. Not all horses like the clippers, and it may take a lot of desensitizing to get your horse used to the clippers.
  5. Horse hair clippings have a life of their own and will get stuck on any surface, especially fleece and similar fuzzy
    materials. Take extra care with planning what clothing you will be wearing while clipping your horse.

Caitlin Jackson, American Dorper Sheep Breeding Society Executive Director