The relief which horses, especially those doing fast work, experience by the removal of their coats in winter is so manifest to every horseman that any argument in favour of the procedure, or in defence of it, is wholly unnecessary. The old method of clipping by hand-scissors and subsequently singeing was years ago discarded for the hand-clipping machine, and in its turn the latter is rapidly being replaced by more expeditious and better-working clippers constructed on the principle of the sheep-shearing machine. (See fig. 487, page 137 of this volume). The singeing-lamp, formerly so frequently and often ignorantly used after the hand-scissors, is almost unnecessary after the improved clipper, and is now used chiefly for the removal of long coarse hair from undipped parts. All horses with thick coats, doing fast work, should be clipped during the winter months, and in the majority of cases two clippings are necessary, the first about the beginning of October, the second about Christmas.
In harness-horses the coat is removed all over the body, but in saddle-horses it is usually left on the saddle-seat and on the limbs, saddle-galls and mud fever being less frequent in the undipped than the clipped.
While clipping is so beneficial for horses doing fast work, it is not found to answer so well in the case of horses that do slow work and have to stand about in cold weather, such as cart-horses when their carts are being loaded and unloaded. Clipped horses so exposed are frequently the subjects of chills, colds, etc.
In these cases, for the purpose of securing as far as possible the benefits of clipping while avoiding its disadvantages, two methods have been adopted - the one chiefly in Scotland, the other in England. The Scottish plan is to clip the horse half-way up, and to leave the upper surface intact. The English plan, which is the better one, is to singe the whole surface, but in a graduated manner, so that while the most of the hair is singed off the under surface of the abdomen, a fair coating is left over the back and loins. Anyone using the singeing-lamp for the first time, whether on the clipped or undipped surface, must be careful, especially on the under surface of the abdomen, not to bare the skin. One of the worst cases of erysipelas the writer has witnessed occurred as a sequel to an excessive use of the singeing-lamp on a previously-clipped surface.