To clip or not to clip - with Miki Maisano

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I started riding when I was five and never looked back. My first two ponies Sunhi (Sunny) and Ladhi (Laddy) took me to pony club and we tried everything from dressage to campdrafting but ultimately I had a passion for showjumping.

So that’s where my career began, in the jumping ring competing! Now I train horses at Cavalier Performance Horses (CPH). At CPH we clip the showjumping team for winter and then gradually began to clip other horses.

When should horse owners consider getting their horse clipped? 

This really depends on the horse - how much is the horse being worked, what time of the day the horse is worked and are there any medical reasons where clipping is necessary (eg cushings- where the horse is unable to shed its coat properly).

If you choose to clip your horse, the most common time to clip is late autumn to early winter after their full winter coat has come through. However if you clip them before the full winter coat has come through or if their coat grows back particularly fast then you might clip you horse more than once a year.

What are some of the benefits of clipping, but also some of the reasons why getting your horse clipped might not be the right choice?

Clipping horses is a great way to keep your horses from overheating during exercise, it allows the horses to dry after exercise and avoid getting a cold from being put away wet or get skin infections from the sweat build up from not washing down your horse after exercise. Dependent on your horse's work load and sometimes for the desired presentation, you can choose from a range of different styles of clips to suit you and your horse:

A full body clip removes all the winter coat. This provides a more presentable finish for the competition ring. I recommend this clip for horses in full work.

A Hunter Clip removes most of the body hair however the legs, half face and a patch for the saddle remain. Most common of the clips in the area which I recommend for horses in full work.

Blanket Clip removes hair from the neck and the underside of the belly. Legs and a hair covering the back and the rump remain. Recommended when in light to medium work.

High Trace/Irish Clip removes the coat from the neck to withers and from there a diagonal line to the bottom of the flank and the underside of the belly. A patch of hair over the horses back and rump as well as all for legs. Recommended for horses in light to medium work.
Trace Clip removes the coat from the underside of the horses neck belly and rump. This leaves most of the coat on the horse. Recommended for horses in light work.

However sometimes clipping isn’t necessary. If your horse doesn’t grow a very thick coat, get too hot and sweaty when exercised, or you are able to work your horse and have the horse dry before you put all his winter rugs on, then clipping may not be the right choice for you and your horse. In some cases horses don’t like being clipped which can turn into traumatic experience when handled incorrectly.

How do you approach clipping a horse that's never been clipped before? 

Oh boy have I done a lot of these! My first recommendation is to talk to your vet about acquiring a sedative specifically for clipping. If a horse begins their clipping journey with a good experience, then you are setting them up to be a relaxed and easy clip in the

future. In most cases I recommend the horse to be sedated for the first and second clip, normally by the third clip sedation is no longer necessary.

By sedating your horse, you are preventing them from over reacting and fighting (as naturally this is their response to new or scary things!).

If your horse is easy going and copes with new and scary things sedation may not be necessary at all! The occasional twitch may be needed if you wish to have their face and legs done (the vibrations on their bones isn’t a nice feeling therefore most horses resist these areas being done the first few times). I recommend twitching the top lip, as it releases endorphins, helping the horse relax and avoid any injuries to both the horse and clipper.

What would you say to someone considering clipping their horse, who might be thinking about doing it themselves?

Then find yourself a good set of clippers that have a powerful motor (won’t irritate the skin as much and give you a nicer finish). I suggest you consider purchasing large animal clippers (eg. Heiniger large animal or Oster large animal). Smaller clippers (Heiniger saphir, Wahl KM5 or KM10, Oster A5 or A6) with a wide blade will also do a great job however the job will take a little longer to finish! I use the Heiniger xplorers that I purchased from The Horse Rug Whisperer in Murrumbateman.

Clip against the grain of the hair, keep the blades flat to the skin, and apply even pressure throughout your strokes.

How can people book your services?

You can call or message me on 0401 266 318. I look forward to hearing from you!