when to body clip your horse


When to clip your horse


When to clip your horse seems like an easy question to answer.  It’s a bit more complicated than saying “October”.  There are several factors to consider about body clipping, more than just the weather. 


Clip your horse when he needs it.


  • This is usually before he starts to sweat under his winter coat, or when he’s not shedding fast enough for the warm weather returning.


  • The more convoluted answer looks at a few factors. What is your climate like? How much exercise is he getting? Is he going to shows? How many times can you clip him? Do you have the ability to give him a prep bath without him freezing to death?


Here are some situations to think about when deciding when to clip your horse:


  • The first sign of winter coming – it’s probably still warm outside, and you can easily bath your horse to prep him. Most horses are shedding by mid-September, so you know the fuzzies are coming in weeks later. Ideally, wait until the hair has started to grow in before clipping, otherwise, you may end up with blotches.


chestnut horse two toned after trace clip


  • When you see the first fuzzies, clip. It will be quick, his coat won’t be long which means faster drying after the prep bath and faster clipping. The downside is that you will be doing more clips later on as the hair keeps growing in. But – you will easily be able to do a deep groom for an easy clip with a shorter coat.


  • When the hair coat is just about grown in – it’s likely not so warm anymore. Doing a pre-clipping prep bath is likely out of the question unless you have an indoor wash rack with hot water and a solarium. So this clip is probably going to take massive deep cleaning before you clip. The actual clipping will take a bit longer also.

Clipping “off season”


  • When the hair coat is totally grown in – by this time winter has arrived and we are all begging for spring. Definitely, the hardest time to clip. The full winter coat has had months to thicken and trap all sorts of dust and dirt. This will be hardest on your clippers and likely a bit uncomfortable on your horse with the clippers pulling through his coat.


  • You can absolutely clip in the spring. I tend to wait until it’s warm enough for a bath so clipping is easier. Your horse will still shed, the hairs will just be shorter. If you find your horse is patchy, it will grow back shortly. You don’t have to wait until the next coat grows in. Hair is constantly shedding and replacing all year long.



Clip your horse in stages


  • I live in a climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are frigid and summers are hot. I choose to do an initial clip as the warm days are winding down and the winter coat is barely coming in. This lets me do a full body clip after a bath.


  • About a month or so later I will do another clip, this time just a trace clip. Clipping away the body prevents the sweat issue, and leaving the legs allows his lower half to fend off the arriving bitter cold. At this point, the winter coat is not full blast (already clipped part of it), so I can get away with a deep curry, vacuum, and hot towel to prep.


gray horse clipped with saddle pad remaining


Things to consider when deciding when to clip your horse:


  • Does your barn blanket on an “as needed” basis – or do you need to wait until a certain date for blankets to be allowed? You may want to postpone clipping until after this date.


  • Just how extreme is the weather? Super warm days and cold nights make things tricky; I would clip earlier rather than later.


  • Do you show? A full body clip throughout the winter season is usually called for. Start early so you can keep the coat short and easy to prep.


  • What footing and bedding does your horse live on and roll on? The dirtier and grittier he becomes from rolling in the sand in long winter hair, the harder clipping prep and actual clipping become.


  • Do his winter exercise routine and living environment even require a clip?


  • What sort of style of clip would benefit your horse? If you are only doing a bib clip, you might be able to postpone and clip when your horse has more hair. That small of an area under the neck tends to stay pretty clean.


clipped gray pony head in bridle

And can we all just admire this adorable pony!?


You can also learn more about types of clippers here, and how to prep your horse for clipping here.


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Wahl Professional Animal Bravura Lithium Clipper – this includes the 5 in 1 blade that goes from a #9 to a #40. Perfect for designs!

Wahl Professional Animal ARCO with 5 in 1 blade


The Chromado, also available in black.


Wahl’s Creativa horse trimmer is also availabe in pink.



The KM10’s are the gold standard for horse body clippers.


The Pro Ion, this is a body clipper that uses 30-15-10 blade system.

The Lister Stars – the best shear-style clippers for horses!


Blades for body clippers, the detachable style.


The 10 Wide blade for body clippers, the detachable style.

A 5 in 1 replacement blade.

Lister Star blades, fine cut.


Liste Star Blades, Medium


30-15-10’s adjustable blade.



Clipper Blade Coolant- You still need to use oil

Clipper Oil – please use this every five minutes as you are clipping. 


Blade Sanitizer


Professional Animal Stainless Steel Attachment Guide Combs for Wahl’s Bravura, Arco, Chromado, Figura, and Motion Pet Clippers (3379) – these combs match the 5 in 1 blades.

Professional Animal Stainless Steel Attachment Guide Combs for Detachable Blade Clippers (3390-100) – for detachable blades.


Thank you!