Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: USDF Region 1, USEA Area 2, USEF Zone 3 - Maryland
They clip to prevent horses from getting so sweaty in the winter. That way it takes a lot less time for them to be walked out and totally dry when they are put back in the field or in their stall. If they had very very long hair and weren't totally dry they could catch a chill and become sick.
The clips also mostly start with at least the neck, which has the huge veins running through it. So, if there is no hair covering those veins the horse should be able to cool faster.
Of course, some people do clip for the look. If they're planning on showing throughout the winter they want their horse to look sleek, not wooly.
The different clips all serve a purpose. How much hair you take off depends on how much work the horse is in. If it's flat sessions a couple days a week you might go for a low trace clip. If you're our foxhunting a couple days a week then you're most likely going to give a full clip. If you're horse is prone to rubs you might leave a patch of hairs for the saddle or a blanket. You should always leave the hair on the legs for protection from thorns and the cold.
-Melanie Mom to 3 bays: Beau, Daisy & Cavalina