Horse Clipping Patterns for Different Levels of Work

7 Most Common Types of Horse Clipping Patterns

Do you know the best way to clip your horse? See if one of these common horse clipping patterns will work for you and your horse’s needs.  Before you choose a clipping pattern, consider the below factors.

Why do horses grow thicker coats in the winter?

If you live in a climate that gets colder in the winter months, you know that this is the time of year when your horse’s coat begins to get thicker.  Many people believe cold weather is what causes horse’s coat to thicken, but this is not exactly the case.  According to, “As the fall days get shorter, the reduction of light causes the horse’s body to begin increasing the production of the hormone melatonin, which in turn prompts additional coat growth. In the spring, when daylight increases again, melatonin production drops, and the coat sheds out.”

As light diminishes and weather begins to get colder, this can pose the question: to clip or not to clip?  Before you determine which clipping pattern to use, think about the following factors:

  • Level of stable maintenance required to maintain the clipped horse, such as blanketing and types of shelter available
  • The level of work your horse is under, and if they are prone to sweating
  • Your riding discipline and if certain clips are accepted in the show ring
  • Your horse’s breed and coloring; some horses are more adept to deal with harsher cold climates than others, and pale pink skin can be more susceptible to ailments due to certain elements (i.e. mud and harsh sun)
  • Your location and climate; consider the range of temperatures; temperatures in South Carolina may have a very different range than those in Northern Maine, for example.
  • Experience with clipping, for both you and your horse.  A young horse that has never been clipped before may consider using a simple pattern before attempting a more time consuming clip.

With a full winter coat, the horse produces more oil that can help waterproof their coat and keep them warm.  However, if your horse is under heavy work in the colder months and produces sweat, it can take a lot longer for the coat to dry, interfering with the natural insulation and warmth the thicker coat provides.  If your horse is being worked all winter, most likely clipping is a safe and more comfortable option for them.  It is best practice to only clip your horse as much as needed to keep them comfortable, and you should strongly consider the stable maintenance required, such as switching blankets and maintaining your horse in a variety of different temperatures and conditions.  Always remember to consult a veterinarian or professional trainer before clipping your horse if you do not have experience doing so.

What Are the Most Common Types of Horse Clipping Patterns?

The below infographic details the different types of clipping patterns that are commonly used.

Horse Clipping Pattern With Workload Scale Infographic


Common Ways to Clip Your Horse

Horse clipping patterns are listed in order of workload level and maintenance required, from most to least.

1. Full Clip

Horse Full Clip Pattern

A full clip is when the entire coat is clipped, including the body, legs, head and ears.  In the winter, the ears should not be clipped to help protect the horse from frost bite.  When removing the entire coat, this essentially leaves the horse with no natural protection from the elements, and requires the most stable maintenance to keep the horse comfortable and healthy.  In this case, the horse needs to have blankets at varying weights available that will keep them warm in temperatures that range from cool to very cold.  Even in the summer months, a horse with a full clip may need a blanket on a cool night.  The full clip pattern is best for horses in heavy work and/or who are showing all winter.

2. Hunter Clip

Hunter Clip Pattern

A hunter clip removes most of the coat, but leaves hair on the legs and saddle area.  This helps to protect the horse from the elements, and may be suitable for a horse in medium or heavy work.  This clip still requires a very high degree of maintenance, and having a variety of blanket weights is important to help the horse stay warm across a range of temperatures.

3. Blanket Clip

Horse Blanket Clip Pattern

A blanket clip removes hair from the horse’s neck, belly and flanks, and sometimes the face.  You may see where this clipping pattern gets its name, as coat is left in the shape of a quarter sheet (like a blanket) and on the horse’s legs.  This clip type is best for a horse in medium work, as it leaves some hair to keep the horse warm where they are not as prone to sweating.  This could also be a good option for a horse in work that is turned out during the daytime hours.

4. Chaser Clip

Horse Chaser Clip Pattern

A chaser clip removes the hair from the underside of the belly and neck, as well as between the front legs and around the outside of the front and hind legs.  The line can be of varying lengths up the horse’s neck depending on your preference and needs.  It is very similar to the blanket clip, but leaves hair on the upper neck.  Usually the head and face are clipped as well.

5. Trace Clip

Horse Trace Clip Pattern

A trace clip removes the coat from the lower part of the neck and belly, and is similar to the blanket clip, but leaves hair on the head and face.  It provides more protection by leaving more hair on the neck.  This type of clip can be modified to be low or high, where the clip line is lower or higher on the horse’s neck and belly.  Typically, this is good for a horse in light to medium work that gets turned out during the day.  With a low trace clip, it could even be possible for the horse to live outside with proper blanketing.  According to, the trace clip evolved for carriage driving horses and would follow the lines of harness traces on the underside of the neck and belly, but still remains popular for riding horses.

6. Irish Clip

Horse Irish Clip Pattern

An Irish clip removes hair from the underside of the chest, neck and belly.  This is best for horses in light work that may be turned out.

7. Bib Clip

Horse Bib Clip Pattern

A bib clip just removes the hair on the lower part of the horses’s neck and chest, from the throat latch to between the legs.  This is suitable for a horse that is in light work that still gets turned out.


Remember, each horse is different so clip types can be modified to best suit their needs.  Do you clip your horse in the winter?  Which clip pattern do you prefer to use in the cooler months?


Main Image: almondjoyy5 at DeviantArt

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