One of the vivid memories from my childhood shore vacations is the little weather prediction cards sold at any shop within two miles of the beach. These cardboard cards were about the size of a 3 X 5 index card. The center held a flocked picture, usually of a ship with sails or a lighthouse. Through the miracles of science (a hydrometer?) the flocked area would change color to indicate fair, changing, and rainy weather. In our terms, sunning all day, get your sun in when you can, or don’t bother getting up.
I don’t see those cards anymore–– don’t look for them either. But I think of them about every fall when I’m contemplating whether to clip my horses.
Clipping the winter coat a universally referred to subject, but it only applies to horses living and working in cold climates. If you are working your horse in the winter, the animal invariably starts to sweat. Sweat is a real problem in the winter. Think of a time when you’ve run around with a parka on, got your undershirt wet and then sat out in the cold. Few things will chill you to the bone faster. That’s pretty much the situation with a horse sweating under his winter coat and then standing still in a stall. The ying and yang of hair coats, they protect things from reaching the skin, but they prohibit the flow of dirt and moisture reaching the coat’s surface as well.
If you clip you have to replace the hair coat’s warmth mechanism with a blanket. Sometimes lots of blankets. In some climates or barns blanketing goes on even when the horses aren’t clipped.
So when I start thinking about clipping I start thinking of the little weather prediction cards from the shore. Deciding when, what and how many blankets to put on a horse on any given day is worth an entire coffee conversation, at least two false starts, and one possible trip to reverse the decision. It can take years off a caretaker’s life!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone invented a “climate strip” that could be sewn into every blanket? Blue would mean cool, heavy moisture, put this blanket on as the outer shell, it might sleet or snow tonight. Red might mean it’s going into the minus-teens, put it on with an outer layer covering. The descriptions could go on and on.
The complications are endless. After all, is this a thin-skinned Arab, a thick-skinned Percheron, a fully clipped horse, trace clipped, no clip? At some point the human mind has to engage and take responsibility. And what would mud or laundering do to the strip. Yes, the problems go on and on as well.
Still, it would be intriguing to have a changing climate strip sewn into the blanket that related to the weather conditions the blanket is good for. After all, when a blanket is purchased the little throw away brand-tags detail the degrees and weather conditions the blanket is good for. I assume there is some standard they use for this.
For now, I’ve solved my problems by making my last clipping of the season in October and having it a really low trace clip. Just the sweat lines are clipped and the hair is full and wooly across the face, legs and top half or more of the body. Under my particular conditions it gives me an easy out. Less sweat and no need to blanket. But if someone would come up with an indicator strip, hmmm, I do miss dressing the boys in the latest style.