Cold Weather Questions and Answers
Question 1: To clip or not to clip?
If you ride regularly throughout the winter, you may decide that the extra demands of caring for a clipped horse are offset by the convenience of not having to deal with sweat-drenched winter fur after you ride. The style of clip will be dictated by the vigor of your horse’s workouts and the conditions in which you live. The trace clip removes hair from along the lower part of the neck, sides and belly, to speed cooling while sparing most of the horse’s natural protection. The blanket clip involves shearing all the hair from the extremities while leaving the upper torso covered. The hunter clip skips the legs and (optionally) the saddle area and shaves the rest. The full-body clip takes it all off.
Blanket the completely clipped horse and those who regularly shiver in their stalls and paddocks.
Question 2: Are blankets in order?
You’ll need to blanket the more completely clipped horse and any of the finer-skinned creatures who regularly shiver in their stalls and paddocks. But resist the urge to swaddle your horse in layers and layers of clothing. Overheating is not only uncomfortable, it can be unhealthy, contributing to skin disorders and, through chilling brought on by trapped sweat, lowered resistance to respiratory diseases.
Question 3: Are there special cooling-out considerations?
After work, your horse’s body needs adequate time to dissipate the cellular waste products of exercise, but it’s very important that he doesn’t become chilled. A gradual decrease in his working pace during the last mile or two of your ride will ensure that he arrives back at the barn sufficiently cool. Once you dismount, hand-walk your horse in a sheltered area. To prevent a rapid loss of body heat, cover his back and hindquarters with a stable sheet until his breathing returns to normal and his sweaty coat begins to dry. Monitor his breathing and his pulse rate, and keep him walking until they return to walking levels of eight to 20 breaths and 40 to 50 beats per minute.
Reprinted with permission from Horse Care Tips from A to Z (An Equus Reference Guide), the Farnam Peace of Mind Edition, page 16, ©2000 Primedia Enthusiast Publications, Inc. d/b/a Primedia Equine Group. ISBN 1-929164-03-3
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