When to Clip Your Horse in the Fall


Deciding when to clip your horse during the fall is pivotal to ensuring their comfort and well-being. But how do you determine the ideal timing for this procedure? Is there a “Best Day?” No – Every scenario has nuances, and several factors come into play. And ultimately, when to clip your horse in the fall depends on your horse’s health and comfort. 


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How to pick the best clipping time 


Match your horse’s coat to the weather


  • Contrary to popular belief, the temperature isn’t the sole factor governing your horse’s coat growth. Genetic predisposition and daylight hours dictate when your horse sheds and grows a new coat. Let’s not forget that even in warmer climates, winter coats can develop.


snow along driveway

Long fuzzy coats are great for horses that don’t sweat much in cold weather.  Add a clip to your grooming routine for lots of training and sweating.



Line up your horse’s activity level and their coat 


  • Horses in training or frequent winter shows gain considerable benefits from clipping. This practice minimizes sweating, reduces the risk of overheating, and curbs potential skin issues.


Clip around your horse’s natural shedding and growth 


  • A gradual shift begins as the summer solstice approaches in late June, ushering in the longest day with ample sunlight. Following this solstice, daylight hours gradually decrease, especially in northern regions with more pronounced seasonal variation than in the south.


  • Horses notice these daylight fluctuations via photoreceptors in their eyes. That information is relayed to their brain, thus starting shedding their current coat and replacing it with a thicker winter coat. Typically, this shedding and growth phase begins around six weeks after the solstice, although variations may occur based on genetics and geographical location.


  • The progression of shedding spans several weeks, as does growing the new, longer hair. During this period, your responsibility is to ensure your horse remains comfortable in their surroundings.


dark bay horse that's shiny after a clip

Many fall days are warm enough to be “naked” after a clip. 



Strategic Timing: September and October Clipping


  • The optimal period for most horses to undergo clipping falls within September or October. By opting for an early clip in September, you facilitate the growth of a sufficient winter coat post-clipping. Your horse may need to be touched up later in the season. 


  • Alternatively, a clip towards late October or beyond results in the removal of longer hair. Perhaps this is the only time you need to clip your horse.  


  • Because the coat continues to shed and grow all year long, you will notice that a clip smooths out and grows out. As winter crawls along, the weather and your horse will tell you if a touch-up is needed. 


Additional considerations about when to clip in the fall 


When can you bathe?


  • A successful clipping operation begins with a clean canvas. Thorough grooming and bathing lay the groundwork for effective clipping. Coupled with sharp, sanitized blades, the clipping process becomes significantly smoother. While hot toweling and grooming can substitute for bathing, a full shampoo bath is recommended whenever possible. 


Look ahead to January and February


  • Unseasonably mild falls don’t necessarily guarantee gentle winters. A September or October clip is an excellent idea if autumn temperatures are too high for your horse’s developing winter coat.  


  • As temps drop, your horse’s coat will continue to grow out. If January and February are wicked cold, clip earlier and skip any touch-up clips.  



gray horse with dinosaur mane and full body clip with saddle patch

This very fresh body clip has a half face and fuzzy saddle pad.


Mix and match trace clipping patterns


  • There is no rule about choosing a full body clip or a specific trace clip design for your horse. You can do both! Use the calendar and the weather to guide you.  For instance, doing a full body clip when the hair becomes overly thick for autumn temperatures can be followed by a trace clip a few weeks or months later. When you trace the clip, you can leave the face, legs, and belly fuzzy and clip any hair under a blanket. 

Plan for blankets 


  • Clipped horses generally require blankets during the winter months. With a range of blanket options available, your choice depends on your horse’s coat length and weather conditions. Prioritize waterproof blankets to streamline the blanketing process, provide extra warmth, and guard against sudden wet weather.


  • Your barn’s blanketing services may influence when to clip your horse in the fall.  


Ultimately, your horse’s unique needs should guide your decision on the clipping timeline, the preferred style, and the potential for follow-up adjustments.


Read the Complete Guide to Clipping Here



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