Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Austin Shepard Wins Again

Paradox Cat; King of the Futurity

by Pam Gleason, photography by Gary Knoll

On January 24, it didn’t take long for Paradox Cat to show the Saturday night crowd at the James Brown Arena exactly why he was favored to win the 36th annual Augusta Futurity Championship. A small horse, not much more than a pony, he came into the arena with an unassuming air. His rider and trainer, Austin Shepard, is a big man, whose feet seemed perilously close to dragging in the dirt even before the little horse started cutting.

There were 45 horses in the Futurity Open class this year, and that number was whittled down to 14 for the finals. Shepard, a top trainer and competitor from Summerdale, Alabama, was riding four of them. Paradox Cat, who had the best score of 221 in the first go-round, was the ninth horse to cut. He was also Shepard’s third mount of the night. In his previous rides, the trainer had gotten an introduction to the cattle. He may not have known exactly which ones would show his horse off best, but he certainly knew which ones to avoid. In this case, there were a few light colored cattle that gave everyone trouble, including Shepard. He had chosen an especially stubborn cream-colored cow for his second cut aboard his own horse Ultra Time. Ultra Time lost that cow, after which Shepard withdrew him from the competition.

On Paradox Cat, Shepard cut three solid black cattle in a row and really showed the crowd how it was done, getting down low into the red dirt of the arena, darting this way and that, keeping each cow from returning to his buddies in the herd. The crowd cheered, hooted and clapped as the little liver chestnut stallion and the big man danced together, matching wills with cattle and winning. When the run was over, the score, 222, was a full six points higher than the previous leader, Metallic Moon ridden by Gabe Reynolds and owned by Sandra and Jimmy Patton. Shepard had one more ride for the night: One Catty Cupid, owned by Joel Colgrove. Earning a score of 216.5 with that ride, Shepard took home both first and second place. Reynolds settled for third.

Paradox Cat is owned by Blakely Colgrove, a 13-year-old girl from a family of cutting horse enthusiasts, who is making her own mark on the sport. Last year in Augusta, she rode her horse Sassy Lil Sue to the Amateur 4-Year Old championship, and also won the Futurity Non-Pro, the second biggest title of the competition. This year she notched another win, claiming the Unlimited Amateur 5/6 Year Old championship with Vespaa, a 6-year old stallion owned by her grandfather, Joel Colgrove. Their score of 224 in the finals put them ahead by six points and tied for the highest score of the entire competition.

Before coming to Augusta in January, Blakely rode in the most prestigious cutting horse competition of all, the December National Cutting Horse Futurity in Fort Worth, Tx. Austin Shepard had entered Paradox Cat in the Open division, but lost a cow in the second go-round and was eliminated. This gave Blakely the chance to ride the horse herself in the Rios of Mercedes NCHA Futurity Amateur Championship. She won with a score of 222, making her the youngest NCHA Futurity Champion ever. In all, she took home ten major amateur or non-pro championships in 2014. Paradox Cat is an own son of High Brow Cat, the hottest cutting sire in the sport. High Brow Cat has sired seven of the last nine NCHA Open Futurity Champions and his offspring have won over $62 million. Born in 1988, he himself won $126,252 during a career that included winning the Open Classic in Augusta. He stands in Texas, and has a stud fee of $22,500.

The other big winner on Saturday night was Barnswell Ramsey, 60, of Huntersville, N.C, who won the Futurity Non- Pro title riding his own Mia Sugar Baby.

The eight-day Futurity crowned eight champions and gave out over $320,000 in prize money. There were 329 entries from 23 states and Canada. These included some celebrity riders, such as Mel Blount, the former Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback. Pat Parelli, the founder of the Parelli Method of natural horsemanship, showed his horse Smart Boy Peppy in the NCHA Open Class on Tuesday and Thursday (he got a 180 for 8th on Tuesday and a 217 for fourth on Thursday.) He also gave a free clinic and demonstration on Saturday afternoon.

The Futurity did not have as many participants as it has had in some other years, but the quality of the competition was high, the energy was positive, and many of the riders, including Austin Shepard, are already making plans for next year. With seven Futurity Open wins under his belt, Shepard stands second to Phil Rapp, who has won the event 12 times. Although Rapp hasn’t been back to Augusta in recent years, he might return soon and he is tough to beat. Shepard has some catching up to do.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Equine Rescue of Aiken

Good for the Soul

by Pam Gleason, Photography by Gary Knoll

Caroline Mulstay takes Noel off the trailer while Jim Rhodes looks on.

The chestnut filly seems unsure as she looks out of the trailer that brought her to Equine Rescue of Aiken. This is not surprising: most of the experiences she has had in her short life have not been good. But she seems to feel that moving forward is better than standing still, and so she trots down the ramp.

She has a pretty white blaze, four socks and a long, energetic stride. She’s feeling good, and Caroline Mulstay who holds the lead rope, has to use her weight to control her. There is no doubt that this is a horse with a certain style about her, a flashy long legged creature somewhere between a pony and a horse. But to see that you have to look past the fact that she is painfully thin with large, partially healed sores on her bony hips and shoulders. Close up, she is a little hard to look at.

“This is Noel,” says Jim Rhodes, who manages the rescue. “You should have seen her before. She’s fat now in comparison.”

Noel greets the volunteers.
Caroline, who oversees adoptions and helps evaluate the horses that come into the rescue, leads the little mare into a box stall that has its own attached paddock. The door to the paddock is open, and the little horse trots around it sniffing and exploring. A small crowd of volunteers, all women, watch her. Everyone is happy.

“It’s so inspiring to see her feeling so good,” says one of them. “It really reminds you of what the mission is.”

Noel has just returned from over a month of intensive care at Performance Equine Vets where she was nursed and attended to around the clock. She is one of 19 horses, one donkey and one mule that were confiscated from a pasture where they were starving to death in McCormick County, S.C. These were the lucky ones. There were also bodies on the property, and bones.

This herd of horses was initially rescued by Big Oaks Rescue Farm in Greenwood, S.C. in mid-December. That rescue had taken in four other starved horses in Laurens County just the day before. Overwhelmed, Joe Mann, who owns Big Oaks, asked Equine Rescue of Aiken for help. ERA stepped in on Christmas Eve, taking the four horses that were in the worst shape. These horses were not far from dying. They were down on the ground and couldn’t get up. They had to be dragged onto the trailer to make the trip to Performance Equine Vets. Jess Fisher, the hospital manager at PEVS, rode with them, giving them IV fluids the whole way to the clinic.

“I wasn’t sure if they were going to make it,” says Jim. Noel was the worst of the four: it took a month of nursing and nutrition before she had the strength and the energy to stand on her own. “But it’s going to be good now. She might not have had a good start in life, but the ending will be good.”

Equine Rescue of Aiken is a 501c3 charitable organization whose mission “is to rescue unwanted horses who have suffered from abuse and neglect and to repurpose off-the-track-Thoroughbreds.” The rescue is located at Haven Hills Farm, a 90-acre parcel on Aiken’s Southside. Much of Aiken is flat, but the Haven Hills is not: there are hills here, and small ponds. The pastures have four-board fencing and run-in sheds. There is a main barn and a satellite barn, round pens and riding rings. There are also about 60 horses, almost a third of them sanctuary horses that will live here the rest of their lives. The rest are up for adoption or will be when they have been rehabilitated enough to be a good horse for someone. According to Jim, it will likely be six to eight months before Noel will be ready to leave the property.

Two of the four starved horses were already at the rescue when Noel arrived, while one, Rose, is still at the vet recovering from surgery on her abscessed withers. The second one to arrive was Milagro, a chestnut colt who looks a great deal like Noel, but younger and smaller. He could be her little brother. The first one to come home was Star, a smaller horse who has already put on substantial weight.

Marie Hogge has been working with Star since she arrived. The filly had been mistrustful and frightened, but Marie brought her around slowly and has been gratified to see her start to respond to the attention.

Milagro has learned to buck and play.
“Once she figured out about brushing she started coming over to me,” says Marie. “I call her Paula Dean, because when you rub her, she melts like butter.” Marie goes into Star’s paddock to scratch her withers. “When she first got here, I noticed that she wasn’t eating the hay we gave her – she didn’t know what it was,” Marie continues. “Instead, she was eating the leaves that blew into her paddock. That must have been all she was used to eating.”

“We don’t even know how old these horses are,” adds Jim. “You can’t age them like a regular horse because their teeth are worn down. This one might be a yearling, or it might be a 2-year-old. We think Noel is 2 or 3. We just don’t know.”

The four horses rescued from McCormick represent one end of the scale here. These are the horses you might think of when you hear the words “rescue horse.” But they are not the only kind of horse you might find at the rescue. In addition to horses that have suffered from abuse or neglect, there are horses that simply needed a new job. These include a good percentage of offthe- track Thoroughbreds, many of whom have the talent and athleticism to excel in another discipline.

“When we get a horse in, we do a thorough evaluation,” says Caroline Mulstay. “We figure out their personality, get their feet in good condition and make sure they are sound. If the horse isn’t sound, or something comes up, we take care of the issue. When a person comes in looking to adopt, we have a reasonably thorough application and we make sure that the person and the horse are a good match.”

Marie Hogge and Star: "I call her Paula Dean because when you rub her she melts like butter."

Unlike many other rescues, ERA does not prohibit professionals who adopt their horses from reselling them later.

“I want to be a safety net for that horse,” says Jim. “I want to take him back if he ever looks like he might be going to a bad place, because I have made a personal commitment to that horse. But if he can be sold into a good home, that’s wonderful. We had a local trainer adopt one of our horses and turn it into a high goal polo pony. He took that horse to Florida and sold it for $50,000 – this was a throwaway horse, but he put in the time and the training and made it worth that money. Did we get a nice donation when he made that sale? You bet. Does that happen often? No, but it can.”

Although the primary purpose of Equine Rescue is to help horses, it is also a place that helps people. This winter, the most visible people it is helping are participants in the Saratoga Warhorse program, which is designed to help veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. Part of this program includes a kind of equine therapy in which veterans learn to work with a horse in a round pen – an exercise in trust and communication. Saratoga Warhorse has its winter headquarters in Aiken: Equine Rescue donates it facility and the use of its horses, all of which are available for adoption.

Since the rescue was founded in 2006, it has placed over 600 horses in new homes. They have been horses of all types, from quiet trail companions to hard-hitting competitors in the show ring or on the event course or polo field. The rescue has also earned an important place in the Aiken equestrian community, attracting many devoted volunteers and supporters.

But even with all this success, the Equine Rescue of Aiken still needs the help of the community. Like most animal rescue operations, it needs more volunteers and more donations to be able to keep doing the right thing for the horses. With the help of Nancy Marks, who is a marketing specialist, the rescue is currently developing some new programs, along with a new website and a marketing campaign, all designed to raise public awareness and increase the Aiken horse community’s participation in equine welfare activities.
Caroline and Milagro

“We couldn’t do any of this without the help of the community,” says Jim. “The volunteers are wonderful, and they keep this place going.”

An hour after she arrived, Noel is standing happily in her stall, munching on a flake of hay and meeting Moon, the barn cat. Like the other three rescued foals, Noel has a good appetite. The four horses are now eating 25 pounds of feed a day: one 50 pound bag of grain for two horses. Rehabilitating horses that were this close to death is undoubtedly an expensive proposition.

“Did it put a financial burden in the rescue?” says Jim. “Yes, of course. Did saving the other horses from that farm put a tremendous burden on Big Oaks Rescue? Yes. But it is what we do. These foals were lying prone on the ground and they couldn’t get up, but they were raising their heads to take food out of our hands. We could have made the call that they were too far gone and we could have put them down. But they had life in their eyes and they had fight. They didn’t choose to be put in that situation. It wasn’t their fault.

“This is what we do. We do it because it is the right thing to do for the horse.” He pauses, looking at Noel where she stands, skinny, scarred, but on her way to better things. She has a long way to go, but she has taken so many steps forward already.

“It’s the right thing to do for your soul,” he says. “It helps the heart.”

Visit to learn more.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Winter Driving Season Winds Down in Aiken

Story and photos by Meghan Benge

The winter driving season is winding down in Aiken with drivers contesting national championships at several venues. Amy Cross won the USEF National Pair Pony Championships at the CAI Live Oak International in Ocala, Florida, held March 18-22. Amy has been very successfully competing Wendy O’Brien’s Welsh Cobs this year with an eye on being selected for the FEI World Pony Championships in the fall.

The following weekend in Aiken, the Windsor Trace CDE hosted the American Driving Society’s National Championship for Very Small Equines. An increasingly popular division, Very Small Equines (VSE) are defined as any animal under 99cm by the American Driving Society. This is the second year that a championships has been held for the Preliminary and Intermediate levels. The Preliminary level was the best attended with a number of single, pair and four in hand turnouts.

Judy Tintera came from Florida to win the Preliminary Single VSE division by 0.24 points over Eloise Nelson. Eloise won the marathon, but Judy's double clear cones and winning dressage score landed her in first. The four in hands of VSE’s were the crowd favorites to watch all weekend. In the end, Linda Willis won the championships with her team of black and white minis. Linda spends the winters in Aiken and summers in Pennsylvania. Sandy Rose, of Virginia, was Reserve Champion. Kim Allen and her mini, Fudge, won the Intermediate Single VSE. Kim and Fudge are from Windsor, SC.

The Windsor Trace CDE also welcomed horses and ponies to the show. Sherri Dolan won the Preliminary Pair Pony division with her pair of black ponies, Smoke and Mirrors, by a wide margin.Sherri subsequently moved up to the Intermediate Level at the Southern Pines CDE at the Carolina Horse Park April 10-12, which she also won. Southern Pines was the host of the American Driving Society’s Intermediate level Championships, making Sherri the national pair pony champion for the Intermediate level.

The final driving derby at Katydid Farm also did not disappoint either. Spectators enjoyed beautiful weather and a tailgate party for the final of the series. Drivers qualified for the finals during the first three events held earlier in the year. The driving derby format attracts a variety of turnouts, with everything from VSE’s to a pair of mules competing in the final. Since the final was held on Easter afternoon, many of the drivers wore their “Easter best.” In the Training Division, Pat Gilbert won all the qualifiers she competed in, and did the same at the final with her VSE, Smokey.

The Preliminary level was very competitive,especially in the VSE and pony divisions.
Tim Novak and Flake
After a little trouble in the first round, Tim Novak and Flake posted one of the fastest times of the day. Flake, a 28 inch tall miniature horse, used his small size to his advantage by galloping the entire second round. In the end, Kim Allen and Fudge were able to hold on to the lead they earned in the first round to win the Preliminary VSE division. (Driving derbies do not have Intermediate, so Kim competed in the Preliminary level.) Janelle Marshall was the winner in the Preliminary Single Horse division, with her Dutch/Hackney cross, Vinny.

The Preliminary Single Pony division was won by Boo Fitch from Virginia with Irish Draught pony, Kiko, barely edging out Rebecca Gutierrez and Naria, a Haflinger. Boo was a member of the US Team that competed at the FEI World Championships for Paraequestrian Driving in 2014. Rebecca competed in her first FEI level event two weeks prior at CAI Live Oak International.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in Equestrian Calendar Aiken. It is reprinted here by permission.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ask the Judge | From Grey Mare

With Amy McElroy

Amy McElroy is an FEI competitor and a USEF R judge, qualified to officiate at any USEF recognized show at all national dressage levels.

She rides, trains and teaches at Fairlane Farm in Aiken and judges between 15 and 20 dressage shows and events each year.

In her popular Ask the Judge column, she answers readers’ questions about dressage.


Dear Amy,

My friends keep telling me I should try for my Century Club dressage award. I am interested, but I don’t know much about this medal. I have never seen this class offered at any of our local shows. Can you tell me more about it?

-- Grey Mare


Dear Grey Mare,

If you are eligible to earn a Century Club award this year, I have to start my answer with “Congratulations!” Eligibility for this award requires a combination of the rider’s age and the horse’s age to be at least 100. Any combination will suit: your horse is 28, and you are 72, for example, or your horse is 17 and you are 83. Since this award was established in 1996, there have been just 174 recipients in the United States. In the state of South Carolina, there have so far been two recipients. Every time you have a horse and rider combination that fit the criteria, you will be able to apply. Each horse and rider combination can receive the award once. However, you can earn the award on several different horses, and the horse can receive the award with several different riders, as long as their ages add up to at least 100.

The Century Club award is given by the Dressage Foundation. This is not the same as the United States Dressage Federation (USDF), which gives out Bronze, Silver and Gold medals to recognize riders’ achievements. The Dressage Foundation is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to “cultivate and provide financial support for the advancement of dressage.” The Century Club evolved to reward and recognize senior riders and senior horses, and to encourage their participation in the sport.

In order to receive the award, you must perform a dressage test at any level at any show, including a schooling show, or even at your own farm. There is no designated “Century Club Award Class.” You must, however, have a recognized judge or an “L” graduate evaluate and score your test like any other test in a show. There is no minimum score: the requirement is to complete the test. But it is important to demonstrate that the horse and rider are able to work well together, and it should also be fun for both.

To receive credit for your ride, you need to fill out a simple application that you will find on the Dressage Foundation website ( It is the rider’s responsibility to obtain and send in this application and to have it approved well before the show or judged test. Judges and show managers do not have this application in hand. The application has no fee.

If you are planning to earn a Century Club award at a show, you should be sure to let the show manager know about it in advance. Earning this award is a big accomplishment, and the show might want to have a celebration. As soon as you have completed your test, you will receive the big black and gold ribbon, donated by the Dressage Foundation. The foundation also makes arrangements for the local media to be present and puts out a press release.

After the test, the score sheets and other paperwork are sent to the Dressage Foundation, where everything will be confirmed (your age, the horse’s age, the name and qualifications of the judge, that you completed the test, and so on.) Then you will receive the very prestigious Century Club award, a plaque that includes your name, your horse’s name and the year you earned the award. Your name will also be added to the current roster of Century Club members, which can be viewed online or in the Dressage Foundation newsletter.

If you are eligible, this is a great chance to become a part of dressage history. You can earn this award even if dressage is not your primary discipline: all you need to do is to learn some of the basics of dressage and practice until you can master the movements required in a test. I would encourage you, (and any other horse and rider combinations that have reached the century mark) to take advantage of this opportunity and come represent South Carolina in this achievement in horsemanship. Rumor has it that at least one Aiken rider has sent in an application for this spring. I aspire to join this club myself when I meet the criteria, and I hope to be a part of your celebration. Good luck.

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in The Aiken Horse. It is reprinted here by permission.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Stress-Free Horse Clipping Tips

Gretchen Canova Gabor shares advice learned over 20 years of clipping hundreds of horses and ponies. Follow these tips and you will be on your way to clipping your horse safely, successfully and line-free. -- By Gretchen Canova Gabor

Clipping is as much a science as an art. Before you begin to body clip or trim your horse, you must prepare several things:

Day Before

  • Purchase clipper blades (read the instructions that come with your clippers to determine the correct blade for the job). It is cheaper to have your clipper blades sharpened but this can take several weeks. 
  • You will need larger body clippers for the body and smaller clippers for the face. If you use different clippers, make sure the hair clipping lengths match up, especially for the face. 
  • Bathe your horse if weather allows. If it's too cold, groom well or spot clean. If you are clipping on a warm day you may be able to bathe the same day you clip, but be sure to wait until the horse is completely dry before clipping. 
  • Find or purchase a stool without a handle on the top. You want to be able to break free quickly without any chance of getting your foot caught. 
  • Find or purchase a halter with a leather crown strap and a snap to detach the throatlatch, or use a grooming halter, which has no throatlatch. You need to be able to access that area to clip. 

Day Of

  • Create a clutter free environment in a low traffic area. You want your area free from any item that you or your horse can run into if he spooks. Low traffic areas also help to reduce the stress on your horse. 
  • Organize a flat surface nearby to stage your clipping tools: body clippers, smaller clippers or trimmers, bowl for rubbing alcohol, rubbing alcohol, soft brush, two towels, orange extension cord and clipper blade oil (Clipper manufacturers often sell clipper blade oil. In a pinch I have used baby oil. I don't recommend engine oil--remember this oil will be in contact with your horse's skin and may irritate.) 
  • Put dogs in office or tack room to avoid them getting close to your horse's legs. 
  • Have someone there to help you.
  • Allow at least two hours for a body clip.

Keep in Mind

  • Be patient--most horses find the clipper vibration ticklish and the sound sometimes scary. 
  • Leave plenty of time to clip.
  • Hold the weight of the clippers--do not press down hard. Most people, when learning to clip, apply too much pressure. 
  • Watch the corners of the clipper blades. You may accidentally clip more hair then you want. Also these corners can poke your horse by accident. 
  • Always clip against the direction of the hair. The cowlicks are the hardest. 
  • Blend if you use different types of clippers to avoid choppy lines. 
  • Do not cross tie or tie your horse if he or she has a tendency to pull back. This type of horse will need to be held during the entire clipping process. 

Where to Start Clipping? How to Test Your Horse?

When I'm preparing to clip a horse I don't know, I always make sure I'm working in a clutter-free area and have someone to hold the horse. I turn on the clippers a few feet away from the horse and observe his reaction. If he flinches with the sound and moves away, I know he will be more sensitive and it will take more time to clip him. 

For a horse that is scared, I may walk around and pet the horse with the clippers in hand but turned off, then come back and pet him again in the same spots but holding clippers, running this time, in my other hand. Use your best judgment for horses that are scared. You may not be able to do a full body clip initially. 

I always start clipping on the bottom of the shoulder muscle. I avoid clipping the face, elbow area, legs and stomach area until I feel the horse is comfortable. Depending on the horse, I will clip one side completely, then the other. For some horses, I switch sides and areas to keep the horse relaxed and comfortable. 

Watch Those Clippers

Dull blades create more lines, make your clipper blade motor run hotter, force you to press down harder and make you clip areas multiple times. A dirty horse will dull your blades quicker and make the clipper motor run hotter. To keep your clippers running smoothly: 

  • Clean the blades often by dipping them in rubbing alcohol. 
  • Keep the motor and blades well oiled.
  • Brush off excess hair from the blades continuously. 
  • If the blades feel hot to the touch, you must take a break. Hot blades are uncomfortable for your horse and create more lines. 
  • After cleaning the blades by dipping them in alcohol, place oil in the designated holes for the body clipper motor and along the base of the clipper blade to reduce friction. Use a towel to wipe off excess oil to help reduce any skin irritation for your horse. 

Eliminating Lines

Lines can ruin an otherwise good clip. They can be caused by inconsistent pressure, a dirty horse, use of different clippers that have varying clipper blade lengths, not going directly against the growth of the hair and dull blades. 

You can get rid of lines by re-clipping the area, making sure to go against the direction of hair growth. If you have a hard line to get rid of, try crisscrossing your clipping over this line (like creating the letter "X") then your final swipe goes directly against the hair growth. Wipe the line down with a damp towel. 

Tips for Cleaning Your Horse

If it is too cold to bathe your horse, curry him very well to bring all excess dirt and dander to the surface. Take a warm towel and wipe off the excess dirt. Spot clean very dirty areas with warm water. Use a horse vacuum to remove excess dirt close to the base of the hair. 

The dirtiest areas we do not think of are the top of the horse's rump and the horse's forehead. These areas usually will develop thicker dander and are harder to clip. 

Watch Your Horse's Behavior

  • Be patient. Body clipping and trimming can be stressful for your horse. Most do not like the sound and are ticklish. This is especially true for a horse who has never been clipped before. 
  • Give your horse a (bathroom) break. Sometimes while clipping an hour can pass quickly and your horse may be moving around because he needs to go to relieve himself and not due to bad behavior. 
  • If your horse is sensitive on the legs you may have to clip the legs in sections. Clip a portion of the body, move to the legs, repeat. 
  • Find the good spot. There's probably a spot your horse loves to be clipped on. Finding this spot may come in handy later if your horse gets restless. You can clip on this spot to soothe and relax him. 
  • A horse usually will raise his head or twitch his tail in protest to clipping a certain spot before he becomes more aggressive. Be careful and stay alert especially near the front legs, which a horse can strike forward, or the back legs where he can kick out. 
  • Horses are most ticklish on the belly near the stifle, by the elbows, on the legs, on the inside of the back legs and on the ears and surrounding area. As you work on these areas, be especially careful as a horse may spook or even kick out. 

When to Clip

  • Clip your horse to avoid excess sweating, which may be during the winter, spring and fall. 
  • If you are not planning to show, you can give your horse a bib clip or high or low trace clip instead of a full body clip. 
  • For winter schooling shows, most horses can use a hunter clip. If your horse has very shaggy legs, you will need to do a full body clip or thin the hair on his legs. 
  • To prepare your horse for hunter competition for the regular show season, you probably will need to do a full body clip. Some horses shed out nicely while others take too much time and need to be clipped. 
  • Bays and palominos: these colors can be muted once clipped until about April when summer coats come in. 
  • During the winter months, there is a lot more static electricity. As you clip, you may shock your horse. To reduce static, wipe over freshly clipped areas with a warm damp towel, but be careful not to wet the hair too much or you can't continue clipping until it is completely dry. 

Gretchen Canova Gabor has always had horses in her life. From a young age she was braiding at shows and picking up tips from show grooms. When she was 13, she rode Silver Star to the small pony championship at the then-AHSA Pony Finals. She has been involved with the Goucher College equestrian program since 1995, and served as the associate director from 1998-2002. She left to complete her undergraduate degree and begin a master's degree in elementary teaching and special education. She continues to help Goucher with showing and braiding. 

This article is copyrighted and first appeared in Practical Horseman. It is reprinted here by permission.