In autumn, horses prepare for the approaching winter months by changing their coat. This process is important for the health of the animals and guarantees survival even in freezing temperatures. The winter coat protects horses from wetness and insulates their bodies from the oncoming cold. If the horses are worked a lot in winter, they sweat with the dense winter coat during training. Now, as a rider, you have to be careful that your horse does not cool down before you put him back in the stable or on the pasture. The insulating air cushions in the undercoat are no longer present due to the moisture. It can take several hours for the thick coat to dry again. This process of drying means a lot of time-consuming work. You have to lead the horse dry and groom it. You also have to change the sweat blanket.
To prevent your horse from sweating in the winter, you can shear him or have him sheared.
In principle, you can choose from different types of shearing.
Basics when shearing horses
When horses with a damp winter coat are left in the box or in the pasture, the risk of catching a cold increases. That is why shearing of the winter coat is becoming more and more popular as a protective measure. Above all the places are shorn, at which the animals sweat most strongly. These include the underside of the neck, the chest and the flanks. With shearing that suits the horse, the coat dries much faster. The shorn animals are more efficient in the winter and there is no risk of disease due to excessive sweating.
Advantages of horse shearing briefly summarized:
Faster drying of the coat after work.
Avoidance of hypothermia caused by sweaty winter coat
Easier training for the horse
No danger of overheating
Easier coat care
For clipping, you should tie the horse on both sides to limit its range of motion. If the horse is still very young or nervous, it is better to have another helper present. He can additionally hold it and calm it down during the shearing. The horse should know the place where it will be clipped. The place should be quiet and protected from the wind. With the shearing machine used, you should pay attention to sharp blades and safe handling. You can maintain the shearing power of the machine by oiling it regularly.
The following procedure has proven successful for horse clipping:
Coat should be completely dry and clean
Never shear a horse that is sweaty.
Always work against the coat line
Clipper blades must lie flat on the coat
Temporarily cool down blades that have become too hot
Shear the desired body area first, then head and legs
Protect clipped areas with horse blanket
Horse hair does not decompose, so dispose of it in household trash
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You can adapt the type of shearing to your horse’s physical activity and the way he is kept.
The seven different clipping patterns at a glance:
Bib shearing involves shearing only a portion of the chest and the front of the horse’s neck. Occasionally the coat is clipped to behind the girth. This shearing is very common. Bib shearing helps prevent extreme sweating of the animal during work, as air circulates better in the sheared area. After the training you can continue to keep the horse outside all the time with a warming blanket. Bib shearing is best suited for open stable horses and for horses that are lightly worked.
Blanket clipping involves cutting away enough of the coat so that the horse can be ridden without sweating profusely, while still being adequately warmed by the winter coat. If you exercise your horse moderately in the winter and graze him frequently in the paddock, blanket clipping is just right. You deliberately leave the winter coat in the places where the animal sweats less. This includes legs, head, back with saddle and croup. The rest of the body is clipped in a strip down the side. This creates the pattern of a blanket on the horse’s body. Especially in the sensitive loin area, the fur remains and the animals are still kept warm there. Blanket shearing is suitable for both sport and leisure horses.
Chaser shearing (strip cut)
Chaser shearing is similar to blanket shearing, but the coat on the nape of the neck is also left under the comb of the mane. In this way, the muscles in this sensitive area do not cool down. From the horse’s neck, the shearing extends in stripes over the belly, the flanks to the hindquarters. The Chaser horse shearing is well suited for moderately to heavily worked horses that are also in the paddock on winter days.
Hunting clipping (Hunter clip)
This clipping method is mainly used for hunting horses, which are often ridden during hunting in autumn. They have to do medium to heavy work. Only the coat on the legs and the saddle area is left standing. In this way, the sensitive saddle area remains protected and the legs are kept warm. Following the horse’s shearing, the animals need additional measures to keep warm after riding and heavy exertion. You should definitely put a lined winter blanket on your horse.
Irish Horse Shearing (Irish Clip)
Irish horse clipping is quick and easy to perform. The coat is clipped only in areas where the horse sweats the most: the underside of the neck with the chest and elbow area, and the belly (if necessary, only the girth area). For mainly aesthetic reasons, the head is also shorn. The entire coat of the hindquarters is left standing. This shearing is particularly well suited for horses that spend a lot of time outside in winter and are only lightly moved.
Full Horse Shearing (Full Cut, Full Clip)
Complete horse shearing involves removing the entire winter coat, including the legs and head. However, the sensitive ears and the fine tactile hairs around the mouth area must not be sheared under any circumstances for the protection of the animals. This complete shearing is especially suitable for sport horses, which are continuously trained and frequently participate in competitions. Sport horses move a lot and intensively. They sweat even more than usual with winter coat. If you shear your sport horse completely, you must make sure that it is protected from chilling and drafts during rest periods and moderate exercise. It can no longer keep itself warm.
There are many reasons to shear a horse. For example, clipped fur dries faster, the coat is easier to care for, and the horse sweats less. Conversely, clipped coats lack natural protection, skin fungus and chafing are more likely to occur, and animals are stressed during clipping. Whether or not you shear your horse is an individual decision after weighing all the pros and cons.
If you decide to shear, you can choose from several shearing cuts. You choose a cut that suits how you train your horse and how you keep him. You have to take into account that you choose the necessary blankets for cooling down and resting phases, so that your four-legged friend will not be too cold in any case.
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