Which Clip Is Best For Your Horse?

Which Clip Is Best For Your Horse?

It’s getting to that time of year again where we start to think about clipping our horses. Before clipping your horse it is important to understand if and why clipping is a good option for your horse, how to correctly clip and what type of clip best suits your horses’ needs. Carrying on from our clipping blog in December, we will now focus on the different clips that you can use.

Points  to consider before you clip your horse

Before deciding on the type of clip, there are a few factors that you need to consider, which will help you decide what type of clip best suits your horse. Will you be keeping your horse in a stable or will they be turned out? This can help you decide what rugs to put on your horse after clipping and the amount of hair that will be clipped. What sort of work load will your horse be undertaking? Horses in heavy work tend to be fully clipped, whereas horses in light to medium work may be kept unclipped or have a small clip like trace or blanket.

It’s good to know what rugs you are going to be using. For example, if you give your horse a full clip, you won’t want to keep him in a lightweight stable rug, you would want him in a heavyweight rug, or use layers to keep him warm. Its all in the planning! If you know how much your horse sweats, you can decide if a big clip is needed, or if they could cope with a bib or blanket clip. Its also important to know how you horse responds to be being clipped. If they are nervous or don’t like being clipped, take your time, don’t rush and give them plenty of reassurance.

With these points in mind, we can now look at the different clips that you can give your horse:

1. Full Clip

A full clip involves clipping all your horses hair. This type of clip is usually for horses in heavy and regular work, like competition horses. It ensures that the horse dries out quickly after strenuous work. With this type of clip it is advised that they do not get turned out during the night, unless they are heavily rugged and have leg bandages to keep their legs warm.

 2. The Hunter Clip

The Hunter clip is another clip for horses in heavy to medium work, like the name suggests, it is mostly used for hunters. The horse is clipped except for their legs (hairy legs protect the skin from water and mud), and the saddle area, where the coat helps protect the back from the saddle. Again, the horse will be loosing a lot of their coat, which means rugging is essential.

3. The Blanket Clip

Image result for blanket clip on horse

The Blanket Clip is recommended for horses that are in medium work, and once again, the hair is left on the legs for warmth and protection. The area where an exercise sheet would be is left unclipped, which means your horse won’t get too hot while being worked. This type of clip is good for horses that can’t have a hunter or full clip if they live on grass 24/7.

4. The Bib Clip

A Bib Clip is the most simple of all the clips. It just takes off hair from the front of the neck and chest. With this clip, some people also carry on the clip under the belly to the girth line. This clip is perfect for horses in light work and horses that are turned out during the winter months.

5. The Trace clip

The Trace Clip is actually two clips in one, the high and the low trace clip. The coat is removed from the underside of the belly and the chest and neck. The hair is left on the legs for protection once again. To provide more warmth and protection, the head hair is left on for this clip. This clip is suited for horses in medium work and that are turned out during the day (once again, with rugs on).

6. Chaser Clip

The Chaser Clip is not too dissimilar to the blanket clip. With a chaser clip, hair is left on the neck, to ensure neck muscles stay warm. Again, this clip is ideal for horses in medium work and who are turned out during the day.

7. The Irish Clip

The Irish Clip is a very straight forward clip to do, which makes it ideal for young horses that may not yet be used to the clippers. Its also great for horses in light work. With this clip, hair is removed from the areas that the horse will sweat the most from (neck and armpits) This means that sweating will be reduced but the horse will still be warm in the most important places.

So there you have it, the most common clips that you may see around this winter. But as always, all horses are different and need to be clipped to meet their own needs.

If you want some more information about clips and also the actual art of clipping, have a look at this video of Mark King and her former groom clipping one of their horses: Mary King Clipping Masterclass

Training Aids Explained Part 2

Training Aids Explained Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of our blog mini series looking at training aids. This blog will concentrate on the pessoa and the market harborough.

The Pessoa

 What is the pessoa?

The pessoa is a system of ropes and pulleys that run along the sides of the horse, with an elastic tensioner positioned behind the quarters. The tensioner is attached to the top of lunging roller. Then two lines run from the tensioner, along either side of the horse, through rings on the roller positioned half way up the horse’s body. They then continue to clip on to the bit rings via a small pulley, before being run to one of several positions on the roller.

 How does it work?

The pessoa creates a connection between the hindquarters and the bit. The tensioner and its supporting lines put gentle pressure on the quarters, encouraging the horse to step further under, and so stretch and lift the back muscles. At the same time the lines running through the bit discourage the horse from raising his head too far by exerting pressure on the mouth. As soon as the horse lowers his head the pressure is removed.

What is the pessoa good for when training a horse?

– Suppleness of the back via a rounder outline
– Increased suppleness will create looser paces
– Developing topline muscle
– Improving the connection from hindquarters to bridle by forming the correct outline
– Improving engagement of the hindquarters, so transferring weight onto the hindquarters and improving balance

Can I ride in the pessoa?

The Pessoa is to be used when lunging only! It is important to remember that when using any training aids, to speak to your instructor for their advice and guidance on usage of the equipment.

Market Harborough

What is a market harborough?

A Market Harborough is in the same family as martingales. The breast strap loops  round the  girth and comes between the horse’s front legs, via a neck strap, before splitting into  two. These  go through the bit rings and then clip on to special reins that have small rings placed  along them  to allow adjustment. The highest ring on the reins that the harborough is clipped onto, the more severe the action of the aid. To begin with, it is advised to start on the lowest rein ring and slowly progress.

How does it work?

The Market Harborough exerts direct pressure onto the bit, and onto the corners of the mouth and bars, when the horse raises his head too far. The rider’s hand will determine the exact action and severity. Once the horse lowers his head the pressure will be released. This training aid should only be used with a snaffle bit.

Can you ride when using a market harborough?

This particular training aid may be used when riding, and is good for pole work, jumping or lunging. But once again, please make sure you are confident in the use of this aid, and if in doubt speak to a professional for advice!

What does the market harborough actually do for your horse?

– The market harborough helps to improve the horses acceptance of the contact
– The horse will gain a greater suppleness of the back through a rounder outline
– Paces may well be improved and increased looseness of the paces through suppleness
– The horse will develop top line muscle
– The use of the aid helps to improve the  connection from the hindquarters to the bridle by forming the right outline

Training Aids Explained

Another mini blog series looking at different training aids, how they work, why they work and what they are helping to acheieve. There are so many different training aids around today and they all do different things for our horses. Some of the more well known training aids include the De gogue, chambon, passoa, market harborough, draw Reins and side reins. When training our horse or getting them ready for the competition season, it seems there numerous aids that claim to help our horse develop a better top line, to help them engage their hind end or to achieve that perfect outline. But how much do we know about these various aids and how do we know which one is best to use on our own horses and ponies? This blog will concentrate on the training aids mentioned above, to clarify why and when each training aid could be used and a brief description of how they work. So lets begin this new mini series with  the De Gogue and the chambon!

The De Gogue 

How does it work?

This particular training aid acts on the bit and the poll, and also causes the nose to be  pulled in. It produces a good shape when working on the flat. By encouraging the neck to be lowered and the  nose to be brought in, the back comes up and the quarters engage. It acts upon the poll and the bit, putting pressure on the corners of the mouth when the horse raises his head higher than desired. Downward pressure is placed on the poll and backwards pressure on the mouth, which releases when the horse brings his head down and nose in.The horse is balanced with his back  rounded  and his hocks engaged – a similar shape to that which he should produce over a fence.


It looks very similar to a chambon, what is the difference?

Similar in look to a chambon, the cords pass through the bit rings instead of clipping to them, and attach either to specially adapted reins or back onto the breast strap that passes between the horse’s forelegs to form a triangular shape.

Can it be used for lunging and ridden work?

The De Gogue is for in-hand work, loose schooling, lunging or ridden work. For non-ridden training it’s used in the  triangular shape and is under the direct control of the horse. For ridden work, the de Gogue can be brought  into action by the special reins, but should be used alongside reins fitted directly to the bit.

So, what is it good for?

– Developing suppleness through the back
– Encouraging a longer, lower frame while being ridden
– Developing muscle across the back and loins – particularly those needed for show jumping
– Strengthening the hindquarters
– Develops looseness in the paces due to greater suppleness in the back

The Chambon

 How does it work?

The chambon is used to encourage the horse to work in a longer, lower outline, using the muscles over the back, quarters and neck. It’s ideal for the early stages of a horse’s education or in retraining. By encouraging the longer, lower frame, the horse will learn to use his back muscles and engage his quarters. It must be introduced slowly and the horse must be encouraged forward into the contact to get the best results. The chambon acts on the poll and, via the bit, on the corners of the mouth. When the horse raises his head higher than desired, the bit is raised in the mouth and poll pressure is applied. As soon as he lowers his head the pressure is removed. In effect, the horse works the chambon.


How is the chambon different to the De Gogue?

A cord clips to each bit ring and then passes upwards and through a loop on each side of a poll strap. From here, the cords drop downwards to attach to a single strap that passes between the horse’s forelegs and loops onto the girth or roller. The De Gogue, passes from the bit back to the girth.

What is it good for?

– Developing suppleness of the back
– Encouraging a longer, lower frame
– Developing muscle over the back and loins – particularly good for strengthening those used for show jumping
– Strengthening the hindquarters
– Developing looseness in the paces through suppleness in the back
– Developing top line muscle

Join us for the next part in this blog mini series, where we concentrate on the passoa and market harborough.

Superstar Spotlight: Kauto Star

Superstar Spotlight: Kauto Star

You may have heard this week that the racing legend, Kauto Star has sadly been put to sleep after sustaining catastrophic injuries from a fall in his paddock. We thought it only fitting to write a  Blog looking at his racing career and his recent transition into dressage.

Kauto Star was born in France to his mother ‘Kauto Relka’. He won a series of hurdle races at Auteil racecourse, near Paris, before being sold to Mr Smith, a golf course designer who paid €400,000 (£285,000) for him in 2004, who put him in the care of champion trainer Paul Nicholls (seen in picture below)

Kauto Star and Paul Nicholls

Kauto Stars’ King George VI Chase win at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, 2006 was the first of five – more than any other horse to have won the Christmas showcase. Fans of Kauto Star saw him win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the most prestigious race in the calendar in March 2007. The next season saw a rivalry that would go down in racing history, as he competed against his stablemate Denman.

Kauto Star continued to rack up high-profile wins – including another Gold Cup in 2009 – until he ran in the 2012 Gold Cup despite getting an injury in the build up. He was pulled up halfway through that race to a gigantic round of applause.

His retirement was announced later that year.

Fondly known as ‘The King’, Kauto Star was working with event rider Laura Collett to introduce him to the world of dressage, just before he passed away. This decision was not easily made- trainer Paul Nicholls wanted Kauto Star to retire at his yard, living a quiet life as a happy hacker, however it was decided that he would try to pursue a career in dressage under the training of Laura Collett. He appeared at Olympia to showcase his new career to thousands of equine enthusiasts, showing that he could turn his racing talent into the skills needed to compete in dressage.

A racing legend lost but definitely not forgotten.



Clipping your horse


Clipping, as is with most aspects of horse care, a personal preference for each horse owner. So, why do we clip our horses in the first place? In the winter, your horse will grow a long, woolly coat to protect them from the elements. If you are working your horse during the winter months, their long woolly coat can become a hindrance. Cold sweat on the coat can take a while to dry completely in the winter, and can lower your horse’s core body temperature and make it hard for them to keep warm, leading to an increased risk of catching a chill or having problems with maintaining condition.  Clipping can help with this by reducing the amount your horse sweats, making them easier to dry off after exercise. Clipping can also help the coat condition and can make a horse look smart. When clipping your horse, it is also important to remember that you’re taking off their warm, efficient winter coat. Therefore, it is important to rug your horse appropriately for the type of weather during the winter.

There are many types of clips available, choosing a clip depends on how much your horse sweats, how much work you are going to be asking of them, what you think suits your horse and also, pricing can be an important factor. The harder your horse works, the larger body area it is appropriate to clip, so horses only in very light work will only require a small clip, or no clip at all if they do not sweat too much. The greater the area that you clip, you will have to ensure you keep your horse warm, with rugs, other protection and stabling.

If your horse isn’t a fan of being clipped, it is important to allow plenty of time and to apply plenty of patience when it comes to clipping time.  Introducing the clippers slowly to the horse will help them become accustomed to the noise that they make and the sensation that comes along with being clipped. People often use a calmer to take the nervous edge of some horses and there are many to choose from if you wish to.  However, if you feel the problem is too great for you to deal with, don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help resolving the situation.

By Emma Mills

Sycamore poisoning in horses – Atypical myopathy

Horse owners: warning over sycamore poisoning

Vets and Horse charity’s are urging horse owners to stay vigilant and keep their pets away from sycamore following a recent rise in cases of sycamore poisoning, known as atypical myopathy.

What is atypical myopathy?

Atypical myopathy is a highly fatal muscle disease, thought to be caused by the ingestion of hypoglycin A, a toxin contained in seeds from the sycamore tree (Acer pseudoplatanus).

British vets have seen an alarming rise in new cases of atypical myopathy this year.

Young horses appear to be more susceptible, as are those being grazed on parched land.

Warning to stay alert

Horse owners need to be alert at all times but especially during the spring and autumn months.

If you are worried that your horse may be showing any symptom, call the vet immediately.

“The signs range from depression, muscle weakness, recumbency, choke or colic-like symptoms to dark red urine.

“The sooner atypical myopathy is diagnosed the better the likely outcome.”

Top tips from the Blue Cross to prevent atypical myopathy in horses

The Blue Cross Education Team has worked with veterinary experts at Bourton Vale Equine Clinic to put together the following advice to help horse owners prevent atypical myopathy:

  • Feed forage, such as hay in parched fields, off of floor in haynets or feed racks
  • Do not over stock
  • Limit turnout. Ideally stable horses over night
  • Section off areas around poisonous trees and collect and dispose of leaves safely away from horses
  • Remove young sapling plants
  • Be careful of streams running through paddocks as this is thought to be more prevalent in moist places
  • Be vigilant of the potential signs of this disease and act quickly if your horse becomes poorly.
  • Ensure you check your horse regularly at least twice daily
  • Check your pet insurance is up to date


Rug Season – Winter rugs

Rug season.

Deciphering the lingo!

It’s that time of year again when we start thinking about the winter rug season.  Many people will be looking to buy new ones or source good quality second hand.  If you are lucky and have horses that don’t wreck their rugs you may only need to get yours cleaned and re-proofed.


These come in lots of variations, from a rain sheet with no fill right through to heavyweight.  Standard rugs come without neck covers, and there are combos with fully integrated necks and others that have detachable neck covers which make for a more versatile option. Every person and horse have their own preference and it will depend on many factors including the amount and type of work that your horse is doing, what kind of clip they have and even the area you live in.

Medium weights are popular and usually have an inner fill of between 150g – 220g and heavyweights are usually 300g – 450g, good for horses that are fully clipped, when it gets snowy and really cold, or you are up in the North!

100g fill rugs are increasingly popular as they are good for Spring and Autumn rug season when the weather is slightly cooler but not cold enough to start really wrapping them up.

The denier of a rug is the outer layer and determines the strength of the outer fabric, most turnout rugs are between 600 and 1200 denier, with the highest being the strongest.  There are also rip stop fabrics which help prevent tears spreading.

There are a lot of brands on the market, each with a slightly different fit so getting advice from your local tack shop can be helpful if you are unsure.

Every horse person will have their own view on what rugs should be used.  However,  nature does work with horses and they will grow their hair according to how cold they are.  It’s probably the wet that they suffer from the most.

What size is your horse?

Check other rugs for sizing or alternatively measure your horse from the centre of your horse’s chest to the middle of his tail. Most rugs are measured in feet and inches, but most usually have the cm equivalent too.



Equine care: Summer problems for horses

This time last year shows were being cancelled left right and centre, the biggy of course was Badminton, so it’s great to see the sun shining and the ground dry enough to park the lorries.

Of course with the sunshine come seasonal problems for some horses, the flies and midges can be a real pest and some horses react badly to bites causing lots of uncomfortable lumps and bumps. We stock a range of fly sprays and the Deet based ones are definitely extremely popular at the moment, customers are saying that it helps with the flies but it’s really effective for midges too.

When I was a kid with ponies at home there was no such thing as a fly rug and I have to say I am somewhat sceptical about new fangled ideas but can really see the benefit of fly rugs and masks. As well as with the obvious benefits of keeping the flies off the horses skin and reducing irritation there is also now the sun factor to consider and as its so much stronger these days the vets are actually recommending fly rugs for UV protection too, something to strongly consider if you have a pale skinned horse.

Sweet-itch can start to become a problem once the weather warms up and from listening to many people it seems that keeping on top of it before it really breaks out can really help with some horses. There are lotions and potions that work for some and not for others and it can be a trial and error process to get the most effective product. Your vet will certainly help advise you on prevention and treatment but there are some basic procedures that will almost certainly help, such as stabling in the evening, not turning out near water, poo picking fields and keeping the muck heap away from the turnout areas.

For un-diagnosed problems you should always consult your vet as there could be underlying issues that may not have been considered.

Equine care: Always look your best

Getting your horse to sparkle takes time and effort but can have very rewarding results.

The day before the show is the best time to bath your horse and using a horse shampoo gives the best results as the pH levels have been tested and are balanced for a horses’ coat. For greys and stains there are many products to help with extra whitening and tough stains.

To get the best results you can either add the shampoo to a bucket of water and use a sponge or brush (a dandy would be most effective) or apply directly to the coat and rub in with a sponge or brush. Get a good lather up and make sure you get all those hard to reach places.
For best rinsing the hose pipe is by far the easiest although not all horses are a fan (mine used to grab it and spray me!). If they won’t let you near them with the hose then try a bucket and sponge. Make sure you get all the soap out to avoid any irritation and using a sweat scraper is really helpful for getting the excess water off the coat quickly. If it’s a hot day they will dry quickly but you can speed this up by walking the horse. If the weather is against you then use a sweat rug until they are dry.

There is nothing more lovely than a well groomed tail and detanglers are a great help and addition to any grooming kit, however care is needed not to over use as they tail can become greasy looking. I always brush the tail to get the worst knots out and then use my fingers to get the rest of the tangles as this seems to ‘fluff’ up the tail at the same time and avoids lots of hair being pulled out. The tail should be cut neatly to just below the hock length when help with an arm under the dock so its not too short when carried.

Once they are dry you can give them a once over with a soft body brush, finishing cloth or grooming noodle which will bring their coat up nicely. Ensure feet are clean and picked out and feathers are brushed or combed through. Chalk or whitening products can be used for extra whitening.
Some people like to remove whiskers which can be done with a horse shave and obvious care should be taken. Ears and a bridle path can be trimmed to look neat.

The morning of a show you will need to give him the once over and remove any stable stains. A dry shampoo is useful here to save washing again but if washing is necessary use a sponge and bucket and just a small amount of water and shampoo to avoid too much lather. Once groomed a coat gloss is a great addition for an extra sparkle and will help keep the dust and grease off the coat.

If plaiting then a quick plait spray can be helpful as it ensures the mane lies down making for a neat and tidy plait whether using bands or sewing.
Ensure your tack is gleaming, boots polished and hair is tidy under your and that you are well presented.
Apply hoof polish just before you go into the ring so its shiny without everything being stuck to it.

Welcome to our new site…

Welcome to our new online shop. It’s very exciting to launch the new website with the facility for online shopping as I know lots of you are internet shopper addicts.

We’ve spent a lot of time making sure that the site is easy to use, functions well and of course looks good so we would love your thoughts and opinions on how it’s working for you and what you think.

Products are being uploaded all the time so if you can’t find what you’re looking for then please do check back to see what’s new. There will be featured products and special offers to keep your shopping taste buds tantalised.

Our blog pages will have all the latest product reviews and topical/seasonal advice. If there is something that you would like us to review or survey, please do get in touch with your ideas.

Best wishes