View Full Version : Why don't H/J riders keep horses under lights?

Lazy Palomino Hunter
Dec. 5, 2009, 10:51 AM
I just had a random thought that I'm now quite curious about.

I know certain areas of the horse world tend to keep their horses under timed lights to prevent them from growing a winter coat (rather than clipping them).

Any ideas as to why H/J riders don't this? In theory it seems like such a good idea, especially when you consider that a lot of horses are in at night in the winter anyway...

Dec. 5, 2009, 11:03 AM
Don't they sleep better with the lights off?

Dec. 5, 2009, 11:07 AM
When one puts horses "under lights" it is not for the entire night. The Stock horse people use this technique to keep the horses coat short as if it was summer time and it does work wonderfully. Hwoever, you MUST keep the horse under lights ALL THE TIME or they will sprout winter hair. So that means taking lights and timers to shows etc. with you. I do this with some horses and it is great, I have timer come on at dusk and stay on til about 9:00 at night. You can take them off light when the day gets long anough in summer but put them back on by beginning of August.

Dec. 5, 2009, 11:21 AM
Because my horse goes out to pasture from 3:00 in the afternoon till 7:30 in the morning. It only takes one day to clip and you're done with it. Lights might be a good idea for other people but I'm going to just keep on clipping. Plus, I make $$ clipping other people's horses :D

Dec. 5, 2009, 11:53 AM
Lights do a fantastic job and lead to a nicer coat than clipping. I don't do it because my horses are out at night well into the fall.

Dec. 5, 2009, 12:18 PM
What about putting them under lights in the winter to get them shedding out earlier?

tidy rabbit
Dec. 5, 2009, 12:20 PM
My lights stay on in the barn until 10pm each night. Helps keep their coats down.

Dec. 5, 2009, 12:21 PM
it just seems much more complicated than clipping, a lot more upkeep, and from what Ive seen, you only have to miss one night for the horses to sprout a coat...

Tha Ridge
Dec. 5, 2009, 12:23 PM
How/why did you come to the conclusion that H/J riders *don't* keep horses under lights?

My trainer has always had a few stay under lights, starting around mid-August when the days begin getting shorter. I've known plenty of other H/J trainers who do the same.

Tha Ridge
Dec. 5, 2009, 12:24 PM
Also, it's not really that complicated to do. Just go pick up a light at Home Depot, clamp it on the corner of the stall and pick up a cheap outdoor timer - works like a charm.

Dec. 5, 2009, 12:43 PM
Some barns do, but so many barns spend the late summer, fall and winter in temporary stabling at shows. And many remember the tent fire in FL as a reminder of the fact that plugging things in on the road is not always a great idea.

Dec. 5, 2009, 12:53 PM
I believe that the quarter horse people do it because most of them think it's blasphemous to body clip a show horse. (Oh the lectures I got from QH friends when I clipped mine for a winter circuit!)

For HJ people, it's perfectly acceptable to show a clipped horse.

I just think clipping is less complicated and saves on my electricity bill.

Dec. 5, 2009, 05:04 PM
klmck63 has it right. Stock breeds don't get their winter coats clipped; simply isn't done.

Dec. 5, 2009, 05:14 PM
I was in training at a facility with lights and the horses looked much better than those that get body clipped. Some barns do it, but you are right not as many as you would think considering how cheap and effective it is! I am body clipping right now but I would much prefer to have my horses under lights.

Go Fish
Dec. 5, 2009, 11:33 PM
A couple of weeks at a show without lights won't trigger hair growth.

A lot of the big shows, (Congress, World, etc.) are held in the fall. The horses have to be in top form and this includes hair coat. There's no comparison between a clipped horse and a horse that didn't hair up in the first place. Grooming is everything with these horses...a clipped horse, in my opinion, looks bad.

My BO won't leave lights on 16 hours a day so I have to clip. Hate it, hate it, hate it.

Dec. 5, 2009, 11:39 PM
The h/j trainers I've worked with have generally relied on some excuse like wanting their horses to be able to sleep, but I get the impression that there's just some disdain for the practice since it's considered a stock breed thing.

I agree, I remember once working at a H/J barn that shared a facility with a QH barn.

The H/J horses were always clipped, and in many ways it was carrying out tradition. I always looked forward to the fall, clipped horses and wool coolers.

The QHs had lights, and were blanketed 24/7 (this is mild CA). They couldn't believe we clipped our horses, and didn't keep them under lights. I don't know why we didn't. I was never given a reason.

There is some thing I like about a clipped coat. I like the goofy colors! It reminds me of the changing of the seasons. Plus, when you clip often, their coat is even shorter then a summer coat, making cooling out mid winter a snap.

That said, my TB had such a fine coat that I didn't need to clip, or use lights, blanketing alone kept his coat short. The QH trainer always complimented me on his coat!

Dec. 6, 2009, 05:56 AM
I think we (in Alaska) would be reported to the ASPCA if we didn't let the ponies grow coats. :)

Dec. 6, 2009, 06:28 AM
I have a private barn, but my thought is that the fewer electrical things to cause fires the better. Barns with lots of plugs, cords, lights, warmers, etc., especially up where cobwebs are, seem unsafe to me. Mine start getting sheets and blankets fairly early and don't grow coats that are bothersome, even at shows.

Dec. 6, 2009, 07:46 AM
I showed an appendix mostly TB who was a true jet black. I kept him under lights w/ a slinky on and regular winter stable rug. By Devon he had the most fabulous coat. By association the horses who were stabled by him also didn't need to be clipped. I hate clipping, the hair, the lines, the missed spots...for the minamal cost of the lights and they go on @ Dusk off @ 8:30 or 9 its so worth it.
And remember they do the same for Broodmares to jump start their ovulation.

I agree tent stalls make it an issue for some.

But mine stay home most of the time anyway:yes:

Dec. 6, 2009, 10:23 AM
When I was away at college there was a guy at my boarding barn that did reining QH's. Apparently he was a big deal and kind of famous in that world. He would often lecture me when he saw me clipping my show horses. I always thought it was kind of funny b/c when I first arrived he RAVED about my horses coats asking me what my 'secret' was. Just good feed, plat performance and oh yea...I clipped them a week before leaving for school. :lol:

I felt kind of bad for his horses. They were in stable blankets 24/7/365 and never, ever turned out. It would be 100 degrees outside and there they were in their stable blankets under lights in their stalls. I'd rather clip and not have to deprive my horses of being horses. Plus when I show my horses have to acclimate from freezing temps at home to summer heat in Florida. With clipping I can let them grow a coat for extra warmth at home and then simply body clip a day or two before shipping to Fla. Our groom is a body clip master, their coats are shiny and perfect the day they're clipped and we don't have that 'lag time' that some people talk about where the horses are weird looking.

Dec. 6, 2009, 10:59 AM
"Under lights" doesn't, by itself, mean "no coat".ts

Music is "under lights" to extend her perceived daylength to 16 hrs a day, approximately 10 months a year. She is out but , with access to the stall, at least 16 hours a day. We have been doing this for over 10 years.

The FIRST year, I had to blanket her to keep her warm, as she only grew a thin coat. But, every year since, she has grown a long coat, it is just a single coat instead of a double coat.

I have not had to blanket her (to keep her warm) any more thatn the 3 others who are not under lights.

If you WANT to use lights to keep the coat thin, you HAVE suplement it with heavier blanketing.

Dec. 6, 2009, 12:38 PM
In H.S. my boy lived at me best friend's house. She did dressage and I did eventing and jumpers, but her mom used to be a QH trainer, so when they built their barn, lights and timers were built in. The lights were fluorescents, built into the ceilings, so I don't think there would be more fire risk than normal barn lights. Here in So Cal turnout is a rarity, so out horses are in at night anyway. My horse always had a fabulous coat. Those lights really work! I don't know why it is not the norm, at least around here (I can understand if horses are turned out at night). So much less upkeep and they are so much prettier and shinier.

Dec. 28, 2009, 07:00 PM
My horse is field board, plus I love his fluffy coat! He's so snuggly.

crazy gray horse
Dec. 28, 2009, 07:28 PM
I have a very woolly pony that started to shed in earnest about the beginning of December. He's never shed early before. He had some serious weight issues last winter, so he's blanketed more heavily this year to help preserve energy (although weight issues are no longer a problem and he's actually gaining weight :lol:). I also leave the light on in the barn, which coincidentally is over his stall, on until I do night check somewhere between 8 and 9. Perhaps this has triggered the early shedding? I have 3 other horses and they aren't shedding :confused: Very interesting....

Dec. 28, 2009, 07:46 PM
why dont western people like horses to be body clipped?

and idk im a h/j person and to me it just seems cruel and unnatural to keep them under lights. they already have to deal with so many other things that are stressful, like showing and being in stalls for one. why add more artificiality to their lives?

Dec. 28, 2009, 07:47 PM
I've known H/J trainers that put their horses under lights, but I think a lot don't because they make some money clipping clients horses :lol:

Dec. 28, 2009, 07:49 PM
1. Big barns are normally on circuit all winter so lights aren't practical.
2. Clipping is fine in the hunter (and jumper) world. Judging doesn't change whether the horse is clipped or short coated, it's mostly based on movement, performance, etc.
3. It sounds like a lot of work.
4. Barns can charge $200 to body clip every horse before every show.

Dec. 28, 2009, 09:44 PM
Everyone's critique of horses being under timed lights (that go off around 8-9 pm and back on around 5-6 am) as cruel really makes me laugh, especially when compared to show horses who are "on circuit" January through March because I don't know if anyone ever noticed but the lights in the barns at every A rated show I have ever been to are on ALL NIGHT!

Just an observation!

Dec. 29, 2009, 01:11 AM
I would keep my horse under lights if I could, but it is not feasible in the stall set up that I have. A coat kept under lights is nicer than a body clipped one, especially when you are showing horses in halter or showmanship. I am lucky that my horse never looks horrible when clipped but lights would be so much nicer!

Dec. 29, 2009, 01:43 AM
klmck63 has it right. Stock breeds don't get their winter coats clipped; simply isn't done.

Possibly started from the Halter horses.

Movin Artfully
Dec. 29, 2009, 10:57 AM
Everyone's critique of horses being under timed lights (that go off around 8-9 pm and back on around 5-6 am) as cruel really makes me laugh, especially when compared to show horses who are "on circuit" January through March because I don't know if anyone ever noticed but the lights in the barns at every A rated show I have ever been to are on ALL NIGHT!!

This is what I was thinking :)

Dec. 29, 2009, 11:15 AM
Just an addition to the thread. Keeping a horse under lights was started for breeding purposes, the retarded hair growth was an associated effect.

As well you do not have to keep them under lights all night, you just need to extend light period to mimic that of warmer months, 16hrs of light 8 hrs of darkness.

I think the reason clipping is done more in the hunter/jumper world is simply that trace/body clips are accepted in the hunter/jumper world. Probably has much to do with our calvary and fox hunting backgrounds.

Dec. 29, 2009, 01:29 PM
So... if you have a mare kept under lights, will she never go into anestrous (or is it diestrous)? Because I like that I don't have to deal with heat cycles in the winter ;)

Dec. 29, 2009, 03:28 PM
I've kept my horses (h/j) under lights until night check (10pm or so) for about 20 yrs. It's a small barn, so not big dif. in electric bill, but I haven't had to clip in past 10 yrs. or so, and that was mostly the older horses. I have older horses now who've been under lights for yrs. & haven't yet needed to be clipped.
Big advantage for me was when I bred my (maiden) mare this year--since she'd always been under lights I had a good fix on her cycle & she took the first time she was bred.
I don't get, however, people who use clip lights at night on stalls in the summer. (I've seen this at shows.) WTF? I used to braid under those lights & they get hot! It'll be >90 degrees & those darn lights are on. Talk about overkill...

Dec. 29, 2009, 03:58 PM
Does it matter what kind of lights you use?

Dec. 30, 2009, 07:46 AM
Does it matter what kind of lights you use?

This is IMO.......

I don't think it does. I used to use a 200 watt clear bulb, one in each stall hooked to a main timer. We now use a dusk to dawn light (one) at the peak of the barn. Have seen everything used including fluorescent lights. The dusk to dawn uses pennies each month when you divide the cost of it by the number of horses it serves.

Dec. 30, 2009, 10:10 AM
Never been at a barn where I could try it before until now. I've thought about it, but just not sure it would work for my horse. His coat is so thick I have to clip him in the summer as well otherwise he's a sweaty mess.

Dec. 30, 2009, 12:32 PM
So... if you have a mare kept under lights, will she never go into anestrous (or is it diestrous)? Because I like that I don't have to deal with heat cycles in the winter ;)

Unfortunately its the other way around. Normally shorter/colder days end estrus.

The artificial light thing has a lot to do with universal birthdays, and regulating estrus in mares. A JC TB birth date is technically 01/01 regardless of when it is born, so a late foal, born in the summer is going to be disadvantaged developmentally as a JC 2 or 3 year old. If they are not born in the first 3 months of the year they will frequently miss out on their first eligible racing year.

This is one of the main reasons TB's start late or are sold out the racing industry.

lesson junkie
Dec. 30, 2009, 05:49 PM
I'm more concerned with my horse's coat holding sweat against his skin in the cold, and making it take longer to get him dry. His clip is much shorter than his summer coat. The field hunter especially needs to stay dry when at work. I don't want her standing at checks with a wet coat, even if it were summer length.

Dec. 30, 2009, 05:57 PM
I boarded with QH people and they are religous about using lights even if they are not showing at all. My horse got clipped this year because he was imtating a wooly mommouth. He just has a trace clip. The hair is still funky looking but in a few weeks it will look better.

My current facility would never allow for people to use lights. It just isn't set up for it.

Jan. 1, 2010, 07:50 PM
We get charged $175-200 every 4-6 weeks to keep show ponies clipped in CT! Lights would be less, I think. Our chesnut pony is pale, dull pink after clipping and the bay looks like ring dirt. I have never known about this before but it sounds great.

Jan. 3, 2010, 09:22 PM
I am a closet QH person that shows the hunters, but I maintain lights on all my show horses. My mentor always said-you never know who will show up with a check and when, and all your horses need to always look their best all the time-showing or not. So, everyone gets curried and vacumed every day, hair trimmed weekly (ok-I let ear hair get long in cold weather), but bridle paths are always clipped, whiskers trimmed, etc. Yes, it is a lot of work, but my horses look like a million bucks all year long. I use the low cost lighting that we built into the barn with firesafe ammored wiring and sealed lights, and they stay blanketed all winter long. They still get to be horses (lights go on at 2am, off at 8am) and they go out in the day and are in at night. It really isn't a big deal once you get the schedule going and have never had any issues in my 30+ years of doing it with any of my horses. I think they are actually happier not dealing with the trauma of a body clip. But be forewarned, they all turn into prima donnas and god forbid they get their feetsies dirty :-) Every last one of the ones I've raised from yearlings are total neat freaks...

Jan. 3, 2010, 09:35 PM
I'm a jumper, and I only clip one of my horses in winter, because he gets the longest fuzziest coat. He looks like a huge polar bear. But I actually hate the way his coat looks when it's clipped, so I'm going to put him under lights this winter and see how he goes. I love his summer coat, but his winter coat is terrible!

Most jumpers and eventers in Australia clip. Showing and breed people seem to keep their horses under lights though.