AskHQ: Clipping the legs

AskHQ: Clipping the legs

Q: I see that some people clip their horse’s lower legs while others leave them ‘au naturel’? Why would I choose to clip the lower leg?

A: There are three main reasons to consider clipping your horse’s lower legs. These are as follows:

  1. If your horse has a medical need that means it is best to keep his legs clipped, and your vet has recommended clipping of the leg hair to help to heal a skin condition then the decision is made for you – clip the legs! Similarly, if your horse has a leg wound and your vet would like the legs clipped to ensure you can note any changes, then get clipping!
  2. If your horse lives in a wet or muddy environment, it is often a good idea to clip the legs, particularly if your horse has feathers or long hair on the legs. This allows you to keep an eye out for skin conditions and wounds that can get hidden by mud. It also makes booting and bandaging easier as no horse should ever be bandaged or booted with wet or muddy legs!
  3. If your horse shows regularly then it can be wise to keep the legs clipped. This is particularly the case if your horse has white legs, as it allows you to keep white legs, white!

Clipping the lower legs is not easy and there isn’t much margin for error around those vital structures in the leg. It is advisable to get a professional to help you to clip these areas, as an injury on the leg caused by clippers is going to require veterinary attention and could have serious consequences. 

On the other hand, there are also three main reasons not to clip your horse’s lower legs and these are as follows:

  1. Your horse is healthy and comfortable as he is, and doesn’t need his legs clipped for a health reason. 
  2. Your horse is photosensitive (sensitive to the sun) and needs his hair on his legs to protect his skin from sunburn. 
  3. Your horse has issues with flies, or there are lots of flies in the area in which your horse lives. Hair does offer some protection from fly bites. 
  4. Your horse does not enjoy having his legs clipped

 

If your horse is happy as he is and has no relevant health conditions, then leave his legs as nature intended!

As a final note, it is worth noting that there is also a middle ground in this scenario. Fetlocks and lower legs can easily be ‘tidied up’ with clippers, without being fully clipped.