4 Ways to Clip Your Horse’s Legs

 

You may, or may not, want to trim or clip your horse’s legs. And this may be summer, or winter, or any time of year. The primary reason to trim the leg hair is to boost your horse’s comfort or health. And there are four easy ways to clip your horse’s legs.

 

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Reasons to clip your horse’s legs

 

Generally, there are two reasons to clip your horse – improving their health, comfort, or both. 

  • Hair is a wonderful barrier against microbes, especially when loaded with your horse’s natural sebum. But because there’s always a twist – some horse’s hair will decide to petri dish into the perfect environment for moisture, bacteria, fungus, and dirt to stir up a skin ailment. Rain rot and equine pastern dermatitis (EPD) are perfect examples. EPD is a broad category of skin ailments, including mud fever, photosensitivities, and other skin conditions. 

 

  • When the leg hair is trimmed or clipped, this petri dish effect is reduced. You will also see skin problems earlier and apply topical medications effectively. 

 

  • Sometimes, a horse’s coat does not match the climate or exercise program, and clipping helps their comfort level. If you body clip for aesthetic reasons, like horse shows, you could clip the legs so everything matches. 

 

Read more about equine pastern dermatitis here. 

 

gray horse getting lower legs trimmed

Clipping is optional – and can benefit some horses. 

 

Clip all the way 

 

  • The customary blade for body clipping and trace clipping is the #10, which leaves about 1.8mm of hair. It’s perfectly fine to use that same blade on the legs. 

 

  • This is a great length of hair to increase the visibility and treatability of skin problems. Or to create a show ring-ready look. 

 

  • Clipping white socks, stockings, and other chrome markings in particularly sunny months may leave pink skin less protected from the sun. Use fly boots and fly sheets to cover up.  

 

 

detachable blade and hinge of the clippers

You don’t have to use the blade that comes with your clippers.

 

Clip using a different blade

 

  • Change the clipper blade if you need to remove or leave more hair. For detachable blades, the higher the blade number, the more hair is removed. Using a #15 takes a little bit more hair away than a #10, while moving to a #40 or higher makes that skin practically bald. In the other direction, use a #7F if you want to leave more hair.  

 

Clip using clipper combs

 

  • Clipper combs are a handy way to increase the distance between the clipper blade and your horse. They come in loads of sizes; just ensure you use the right ones for your blade system. Detachable blades and 5 – in – 1 blades use slightly different combs.  

 

  • The finished clip may not be as smooth as without the combs, but these can do the trick for many horses. Clipper combs may be especially helpful for horses with loads of feathers, and you want to thin them out a bit. 

 

clipper guards

Clipper combs are great to experiment with. 

 

Change how you clip

 

  • We are taught that clipping against the direction of the hair growth is the only way to do things. To that, I say, “wrong.”

 

  • When you clip with the direction of hair growth, you essentially rake the hair, removing a portion of it. The angle at which you rake makes a difference, too. If you rake down the leg with the blades higher than your hand, you will not remove too much hair. Change the angle and you will change the final length of hair. 

 

Or mix it all up

 

  • You may need to mix up these techniques if your horse has an active case of equine pastern dermatitis. You could do whatever suits your horse the best, but on active cases of skin problems, clip a little shorter or clip more frequently. Your horse may look silly for a little bit, but silliness is excellent if it helps your horse heal.  

 

 

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