Where to clip your horse



No rule states that clipping your horse is mandatory or that you must follow a specific pattern or design. Your horse’s clipping needs may range from minor touch-ups to a complete body clip. Some places on your horse benefit from clipping and trimming, and you can skip other places.  Sweat and weather will tell you where to clip your horse. 


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Strategic Clipping: Enhancing Comfort and Health for Your Horse


Bridle Path


  • The primary purpose of a bridle path lies in enhancing bridle fit. Ensuring the mane doesn’t interfere with the bridle’s crownpiece is essential for a smooth fit and no pressure points. This consideration becomes more pertinent for horses with thick manes, as the hair creates a ridge that prevents the crownpiece from laying flat. 


  • Additionally, a clipped bridle path contributes to your horse’s overall appearance. Depending on the breed, the width of the bridle path varies, with some breeds like Arabians and certain Saddlebreds featuring a bridle path extending several inches down the mane.


drops of water on horse whiskers

Consider keeping your horse’s whiskers intact! 





  • Whiskers, scientifically known as vibrissae, are unique sensory hairs that aid your horse in exploring. While horses possess extensive peripheral vision, they face limitations in directly observing things in front of them or beneath their chins. Whiskers are navigational tools, particularly when locating food – every horse’s favorite thing.


  • Regulations regarding whisker clipping vary; countries like Germany and organizations like the FEI forbid whisker clipping. However, in disciplines like the hunters and some Western disciplines, clipping whiskers is deemed traditional but not mandatory.  



  • Horse ears have hair both externally and internally. The option exists to clip both the inner and outer surfaces, which removes sun and insect protection. Horses with clipped ears need fly bonnets and fly masks to replace that hair.


  • You can also split the difference and leave the ear hair while trimming the ear’s edges for a sharp look. Or not clip at all. 


up close photo of horse ear and forelock

Protect the ears if you opt to clip the inner hair.


Elbows and Girth Area


  • The elbow region is a convergence of hair, sweat, and excess skin. This combination creates an environment conducive to housing ticks, hair loss, and the emergence of sores.


  • Friction and moisture often lead to rubs and girth galls, manifesting as hair breakage or bald patches preceding open sores. In some instances, the hair itself exacerbates friction-related issues. Hair can abrade the area as your horse creates friction in this highly mobile area. Clipping the area minimizes irritation, offers better visibility for monitoring, and potentially reduces friction.


  • You can experiment with keeping or clipping the hair for horses prone to girth galls and tack sores. Friction-blocking sticks are easier to use with short hair and help things slide over your horse.  


trimming up a horse fetlock

You can clip the feathers if you like!  Or you can just take a little off the top.


Fetlocks and Pasterns


  • Hair on the lower legs, ranging from little tufts to substantial coverage, can trap moisture and bacteria. Equine pastern dermatitis is an uphill battle to treat, and prevention is much easier.


  • Clipping the lower legs helps prevent skin infections and lets you see the area easily. It’s also much easier to use topical treatments without all that hair. 


  • Show horses might undergo full lower leg clipping, mainly when there’s some chrome. Shorter-trimmed white hair is easier to manage and less prone to staining. Additionally, ticks are more noticeable in short hair of any color.


  • Conversely, not clipping the fetlocks preserves the legs from sun exposure, with fly boots providing an alternative if lower leg trimming is chosen. You can also select clipper blades that leave more hair, like the 7F, or use clipper combs to leave more hair but remove the bulk. 

Coronary Band


  • Clipping the coronary band holds multiple merits. Improved visibility of the coronary band aids in detecting potential injuries that could hinder hoof growth. Quarter cracks tend to manifest here first.


  • For show horses, neatly clipped coronary bands present a polished appearance. Trimming these stray hairs can be advantageous even if the entire lower leg isn’t clipped.


trimming the coronary band with arco trimmers




  • Use clippers on a horse’s tail to achieve specific effects. Clipping the sides of the tailbone creates the illusion of fuller and more muscular buttocks.


  • Tail banging can help wispy tails. Banging results in a straight-across tail bottom for added volume and a crisp edge. Preferences vary; some disciplines favor the natural tail end. Some breeds with wildly thick tails can look ridiculous with a banged tail, so use caution. 

Body Clipping and Trace Clipping


  • Tailor your horse’s clip style, be it a trace clip or full body clip, depending on your horse’s needs. Thicker coats, due to genetics or conditions like Cushing’s disease, benefit from full body clips during summer.


  • Other horses require relief from excessive sweating. Design your trace clip layout based on your horse’s sweat distribution. Usually, more sweat accumulates under the neck and around the flank, guiding your clipping decisions.


  • You don’t have to follow a cookie-cutter pattern! Design the best clip for your horse. 


dark bay horse that's shiny after a clip

This guy has a fuzzy saddle patch after a full body clip. 



Under the Saddle


  • If your chosen clip pattern covers your horse’s back, you may want to leave a fuzzy saddle patch. Because a clipped coat is shorter than a summer coat, leaving the longer hair helps ward off tack rubs.  


  • Or, the longer hair is abrasive and causes rubs or creates a saddle fit issue. Selecting a thinner or thicker saddle pad could aid in saddle fit. 


  • There is no “one size fits all” approach to clipping. And it may take some experimenting to find the best combination of clipped and skipped parts. 



Read the Complete Guide to Horse Clipping here.


Read Clipping for Beginners here. 





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