Winter Clip

The shorter days and longer, cooler nights of fall trigger a change in your horse’s hair growth. In temperate climates, in August or September, horses begin shedding their short summer hair and replacing it with longer winter hair. The fluffy coat characteristic of horses turned out in the northern states and Canada is usually completely grown in by November. For the horse turned out for the winter, the natural coat is an ideal form of protection, as the long hair traps a layer of warm air next to the body, which acts as insulation. During cold temperatures, piloerector muscles make the hair stand up, which increases the coat’s insulating potential.


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Ear Clip

Certain places on a horse’s body have extra hair for a reason. The ears, for example, grow extra hair both inside and outside in the fall to keep them warm during the winter. If you need to tidy up your horse’s ears for the winter, just clip them flush and maybe tweak the outline. 

However, long winter hair can create difficulties for you if you intend to ride your horse actively during the winter. If you do plan to keep your horse in work throughout the winter, you should consider one of the following: blanketing, clipping, or a combination of clipping and blanketing.

Blanketing. To minimize the density of the winter coat your horse grows in the fall, you can begin blanketing him in August and using lights (see November Reproduction Roundup) so that his body receives the signal that only short to medium hairs are required to replace the summer coat. Of course, once you begin blanketing, you will need to continue blanketing your horse all winter.

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Click on this photo to visit our Tack Barn where we have items that are new and used once for photo shoots – all at very low prices.

Body clip. In areas with moderate to severe winters where horses grow a substantial winter coat, you may need to use a type of body clip to minimize grooming and cooling-out time. If you choose a conservative clip and your winter is mild, you may be able to turn out a clipped horse without blanketing him. In most wintry states, however, it is necessary to blanket a clipped horse.

Body clipping will allow you to work your horse vigorously during the winter. Clipped horses sweat less, and what sweat there is will be able to dry more quickly. The clipped horse can be cooled out much more effectively and safely than the unclipped horse. Also, the clipped horse is tidy in appearance and relatively easy to keep clean, an important factor in the non-bath months.

Body clipping won’t appreciably improve the appearance of an unhealthy horse — such a horse will just have a bad short coat instead of a bad long coat. But the healthy horse in active work can benefit greatly from a winter clip.

Types of Clips

There are three basic types of body clips, each with many variations and styles: the full clip, the hunter clip, and the trace clip. The full body clip consists of shortening the hair on the entire horse, including the head and legs. Immediately after a full body clip, most horses, especially bays and chestnuts, appear to be a lighter color.

The (field) hunter clip. This is essentially a full body clip, except that long hair is left on the legs and saddle area. For protection when working in snowy fields, the winter hair remains on the legs from the elbows and stifles down to the coronary bands. In addition, a patch the shape of the saddle pad is also left so that the horse’s back is less prone to chill after work.

The trace clip. This was originally designed for harness horses that worked in the winter. The hair is clipped in the areas where a horse sweats: the throat, chest floor, belly, inner thighs, and under the tail. A conservative trace clip may involve removing a strip of hair 8 to 10 inches wide from the throat under the belly to the anus. The basic trace clip can be embellished with sharp geometric designs and circles so it fits the needs of a more aggressive exercise program.

clipper Tips.

Before you bring your horse in the barn for his clip, be sure your clippers are in working order and that you have several sets of sharp blades on hand.

In very general terms, there are two types of clippers: heavy duty and light duty. The heavy duty clippers are suitable for body and leg clipping. They are designed to be used for extended periods of time because they cool while they are being used. Light duty clippers are suitable for small jobs, such as trimming the muzzle, throat, ears, and bridle path, and perhaps a touch up on the legs. If you use light duty clippers for removing heavy winter hair, not only will the blades quickly become dull, but the motor may overheat and burn out as well.

For most of the body work, heavy duty clippers with a wide head work best. Small clippers are necessary for the legs, head, and tight areas such as the elbows. The clippers for the body work should be outfitted with #10 or #15 blades, which cut hair to about a quarter inch. Never use a surgical blade (#30 or #40) for a body clip, as it would remove the hair right down to the skin.

Body Clipping Basics

Here are some guidelines for the first time you clip a horse.

Take the time to outline a plan. Mentally go through each step of the procedure to be sure you will have everything on hand that you need. Budget enough time for the job. Figure about two to three hours to clip a horse.

Approach the task with patience. If you get frazzled or hurried, your clip will show it. It helps if you are experienced at clipping, but if it is your first time doing a body clip, ask a knowledgeable friend to coach you through the tough spots.

Everyone stay calm. A calm, experienced horse will make your first clipping job easier. However, if you must clip a young or nervous horse, check with your veterinarian for his or her recommendations for an appropriate tranquilizer.

Cleanliness is a virtue. Be sure the horse is very clean before you begin clipping. Dirt can dull clipper blades very quickly. If bathing is possible, wash the horse the day before clipping and let him dry unblanketed. If it is too cold for bathing, thoroughly groom the horse using a rubber curry and vacuum so that the clean hair stands out from the body when you are finished.

Braid the mane and wrap the tail. This will keep them out of the way while you are clipping.

Clipping Procedure

Begin clipping on the shoulder or the barrel with the large-headed clippers. To get a consistent clip, hold the clippers with the blades flat against the horse’s body for the entire session.

Aim the clipper head directly against the hair growth. You will probably be surprised at how many times the hair growth changes direction on the horse’s body.

Using short strokes rather than long strokes results in fewer “tracks,” or residual clipper lines.

As you clip, keep the blades clean and cool. With the clippers running, dip just the tips of the clipper teeth into a commercially prepared blade wash or kerosene. This will cut any oily or dirty residue that has built up on the blades. With the blades pointed toward the floor, shake the excess fluid off the blades before tipping them upright to resume.

If you notice that the sound of the motor changes, it may be that the blades need to be lubricated. Refer to your owner’s manual. Some models require oiling. Others recommend a spray lubricant be used directly on the blades. The lubricant cools the blades and removes small dirt particles, thereby further reducing friction.

Keep the air intake screen clear of hair, or the motor will not cool properly. If the clippers overheat, you must stop using them until they cool. Hot clippers not only can hurt your horse, but the motor can burn up irreparably.

Once you finish clipping the fleshy body parts such as the shoulders, chest, barrel, belly, and thighs, use small clippers on the extremities such as the legs and head.

When you are finished, thoroughly clean your clippers before putting them away. Leaving hair, sweat, and scurf on the blades can result in rusted blades that will not clip well the next time you want to use them.

Finally, curry your horse vigorously, vacuum him, and rub some oil or conditioner into his coat. Groom the clipped horse daily to restore the oil and shine to his coat.

Horse Books - Buy One Get Two Free

Horse Books – Buy One Get Two Free

First Aid Kit

The purpose of a first aid kit is to provide you with the tools and supplies you need to give immediate care to your horse.

I have 3 barn first aid kits. One next to the crossties that holds frequently used items.

The other two are in the tack room.

I keep a commercial human first aid kit right by the door.

And I keep my custom trauma kit ready when I need it and at room temperature. I assembled all of the essential tools and supplies for dealing with a wound in a large plastic container with a snap lid. (Available in the home storage section of your favorite department store).

When an emergency strikes, I know when I open my kit, all the necessary items will be there, ready to use.


first aid book
veterinarian’s phone number
flashlight and batteries
latex gloves
lubricating jelly
Betadine solution
Betadine ointment (povidone-iodine, 10%)
triple antibiotic ointment furacin ointment (nitrofurazone)
saline eyewash
phenylbutazone (Butazolidine)
Banamine (flunixin meglumine)
wooden applicator sticks
non-stick gauze pads
conforming gauze padding (leg quilts or disposable diapers)
self-adhering stretch bandage
elastic adhesive tape
pocket knife
watch with second hand
disposable syringes and needles
instant cold compress


chain twitch
protective hoof boot
weight tape
clean buckets
clean cloths
clean spray bottle
portable lights (clamp or stand)
extension cords




Horse Books - Buy One get TWO FREE

Horse Books – Buy One get TWO FREE



Browse new and used horse tack and equipment at horsekeeping.com

Wool plaid cooler


A cooler is a lightweight, absorbent cover designed to help a wet horse dry slowly without getting chilled. Essential during cold or cool, breezy weather, these items are also valuable in hot times. Even when he doesn’t need protection from chilling, a cooler can help dry a horse more quickly by wicking moisture away from his hair and letting it evaporate from the outer surface of the cooler. Sometimes, during cold weather, frost will form on the outside of the cooler, a sure sign that it’s working! In the winter, you can layer two coolers after bathing a horse and remove the inner cooler once it has absorbed most of the moisture.

Click photo to purchase

Click photo to purchase

The typical cooler style covers the horse from poll to tail and hangs very long on the sides. It usually has a browband, two or more light tie straps under the neck, and a tail loop, but no surcingle or leg straps. This style is good for throwing over a horse, tack and all, after a workout to allow him to cool down while walking or untacking. Small size is 66 by 72 inches, Regular size is 84 by 90 inches, and Large is 90 by 96 inches.


Click photo to purchase

Coolers also come in a more fitted stable-sheet style, with one or more belly attachments, front closures, and possibly leg straps. Because this style is more secure on the horse, it’s better suited for a horse that’s unattended, such as a horse turned into a stall or paddock to munch hay after a bath or workout.

Click photo to purchase

Click photo to purchase

Coolers used on sweaty horses need to be easily washable, since the dirt and minerals from sweat remain in the material after the moisture evaporates. Since wool coolers, even when washed cold, are more prone to shrinking than synthetic coolers, you can minimize their trips to the washing machine by double-layering them with a more washable synthetic cooler next to the horse.



Part of being a horseman is knowing how to tie knots. Four knots you should master: the quick release knot, the bowline, the half hitch, and the sheet bend.

Quick Release Knot.

As the name implies, this knot can be released quickly with a pull on the tail of the rope. It is used to tie a horse to a hitch rail or post, or to a horse trailer. You can also use it to tie individual reins to a surcingle or to rigging rings on a Western saddle. Also called a manger knot, it was the knot used to tie horses at their mangers when horses were kept in tie stalls. With practice, you can tie the quick release knot without hesitation and keep your fingers out of the loops while tying.

Tying the Quick Release Knot


Run the tail of the rope (called the free end) over the rail or through the tie ring. Hold the standing end (the portion attached to the horse) and the free end together in your left hand.

With your right hand, pick up a portion of the free end of the rope and make a fold (bight) in it. Cross the fold over the two ropes you are holding in your left hand and through the loop that has formed. (Take care not to let your fingers get inside any of the loops, because if your horse were to pull at this point, your fingers could get trapped in the loops.)

Grab the bight and pull it through the loop. Pull until the U-shaped bight is about 6 inches long and the knot is snug.

Grasp the standing portion of the lead rope with your left hand and the knot with your right hand. As you pull with your left hand, slide the knot up to the ring or the rail with your right hand.

To release, just pull the free end. If you horse has learned how to nibble the quick release knot and free himself, you will have to “horse proof” the knot by dropping the tail of the rope through the loop. In order to release a horseproof quick release, you must first remove the tail from the loop.

Bowline Knot.


This is a non-tightening knot that is safe to use as a neck rope or in restraint.

Half Hitch.


Not actually a knot, this is a hitch made by looping a rope or strap around an object and then back around itself. Useful to fasten a pair of reins over a Western saddle horn; to fasten the leading end of a mecate to a Western saddle horn; and to secure a quick release knot.

Sheet Bend.

This is used to fasten a rope halter or a fiador (rope throatlatch on a bosal) onto a horse.


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No that is not a typo………..read on……….

These vintage leather saddle bags were made around the late 1940s to early 1950s by Keith Robbins, who was born in 1927. Following is an excerpt from Robbins biography that was written by his son.

It was at this time that Dad worked at the Utahn Saddle Co. (they couldn’t use “Utah” and have it as registered companies name so they called it Utahn). It was a business his father started because he couldn’t find a saddle that was comfortable to him. They began with about five employees, including my Dad. One of their main customers was Sears.

As a publicity stunt, they strapped a saddle on the outside of a single-engine airplane. A flight instructor rode around the Salt Lake valley while sitting in the saddle on the back of the airplane. Eventually, the Utahn Saddle Shop went bankrupt. Then my Dad went to work for Jenkins Saddle Shop.”


Utahn Saddle Co., Vernon Utah vintage Late 1940s, early 1950s heavy skirting leather all stitching intact very clean inside 39″ long from end to end each of the two expandable side pockets are 10 x 12 and the softer chrome tanned leather in the expansion area allows them to be 3 3/4″ deep so hold a lot of stuff

Dear Cherry,

We just purchased a two-year-old filly and brought her home. She is in a 24-foot by 12-foot outside stall. She paces back and forth. We tried putting her in a 50-foot round pen and she paced there. Do you have any suggestions? We love the filly and are getting her broke. Help!


Hi Heidi,

Here are a series of questions that might help you pinpoint the cause and head toward a cure. Possible causes: Have you checked her ration to be sure you are not feeding her too much high energy feed, such as grain, concentrates, or alfalfa hay? Is she getting plenty of exercise with her training? Does she have time to socialize with other horses?
Possible cures: Can you turn this filly out with another horse, at least occasionally? Do you have any pastures or large paddocks that the horse can be turned out in for at least an hour or so a day? Is she the type of horse that won’t get too fat if she eats a little bit all day? If so, can you feed her some grass hay about four or five times a day?

Cherry Hill

Take advantage of our Book Sale. Buy One and Get TWO FREE on this page. New books are being added weekly in both categories.

We’ve just added some great behavior books about vices and bad habits. horse-owners-problem-solver-200hproblem-horse-200h

Which Itch Is Which?

Biting gnats, lice, ticks, fungus, and allergies can all cause itching. If your horse rubs bald spots in his mane or tail, check him thoroughly for external parasites such as lice or ticks, parasites (such as pinworms), or fungus, and treat according to your veterinarian’s instructions.

Itching can also be caused by ringworm, which is contagious to you and other horses. If a horse has ringworm, you will need not only to treat the horse but also to disinfect grooming tools, halters, blankets, stalls, feeders, and anything else he may have rubbed on.

Some horses (and dogs) seem to be hypersensitive or allergic to insect bites and once they are bitten, they go into a rubbing frenzy, which then invites other complications. In some cases, this is referred to as sweet itch or Queensland itch. A veterinarian should be consulted, but prevention of bites to susceptible animals is paramount. Remedies include soothing witch hazel or vinegar rinses, and possibly a corticosteroid prescription from your veterinarian.


Take advantage of our Book Sale. Buy One and Get TWO FREE on this page. New books are being added weekly in both categories.

We’ve just added some great equine veterinary texts and references books.


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