With well-bred, fine-skinned horses kept in comfortable stables, and having good grooming and clothing, the natural coat, except when they are aged, need not be interfered with; but there are horses which, in conditions opposite to those mentioned, carry longer coats in winter, and if made to do fast work, perspire so much that they do not dry again for a long time; and, besides, wearing a heavy coat appears to make them H sluggish and spiritless. With such animals great advantage is derived from the removing as much of the hair as possible by either singeing, clipping, or shaving them. The skin deprived of the excess of hair is much easier cleaned and dried, and secondary sweating is prevented; while the animal himself will do more work, and with much more sprightliness. Singeing should be resorted to whenever the coat begins to lengthen in the autumn, and should be repeated every week or ten days, until the end of winter. Gas singeing is the best, when it can be made available; the operation should always be performed by a careful groom, as the skin is liable to be scorched or blistered by a careless or inexperienced person.
Clipping is resorted to for horses with heavier coats, and when these have set it is perhaps more advantageous than singeing, and it is certainly less troublesome; though it is not unusual to pass the singeing lamp over the skin of the clipped horse several times during the season. With some horses, and especially if they are advanced in years, little clothed, or kept in cold stables, if singeing is not resorted to, a second clipping will be necessary. With hunters, and particularly those exposed to "mud fever," or which have to pass through thorn bushes, it is usual to leave the legs, a short distance above the knees and hocks, untouched. It must be remembered that clipped horses feel the cold much more than those which are unclipped, and if kept standing for any time out of doors unclothed are certain to be seriously affected by it. It is therefore necessary to keep them moving as much as possible, or, at any rate, not to allow them to stand longer than can be helped.
For horses which are out the greater part of the day doing slow work, and especially if having to stand for considerable periods, if the back and loins are not protected by a waterproof in cold wet weather, as some horses are, the coat should be left undisturbed; indeed, the less grooming they receive the better, as the grease and dandriff which accumulate in the long hair afford a natural protective covering.
It may be remarked that neither when the body is being clipped, nor at any other time, should the hairs be removed from inside the ears, as they prevent the entrance of insects, dust, and other troublesome bodies, which would otherwise gain access to these important and sensitive cavities; neither should the long bristly hairs about the eyes, nostrils, or lips be cut, as these perform a very important office in warning the horse against injury to those parts.
With regard to shaving, instead of clipping or singeing, this is seldom performed, as it is difficult, requires much time, and leaves the skin too denuded.