Clipping and Rugging

When the nights start to draw in and the weather gets colder the controversial topic of clipping and rugging starts to creep around yards. So why do we clip our horses when it starts to get cold and then replace their naturally warm and fluffy winter coat with rugs? 
Horses have evolved to live outdoors so as the temperature starts to drop the horse starts to grow a thick winter coat. Since we have domesticated the horse it can be undesirable for a horse to develop this natural coat. It can cause the horse to be more uncomfortable when being ridden as they tend to sweat more, which can also cause the horse to lose condition. Due to the weather being cold it will also take a long time for the horse to dry off after exercise, washing them with a cold hosepipe when the weather is at such a low temperature is also a bit unfair and can cause the horses immune system to be compromised.  So the main reason for clipping your horse in winter is to help them to work more comfortably and for ease of the rider.
Reasons for clipping your horse:
Faster drying after exercise
Maintain better level of fitness
Conserve energy by reduced sweating
Easier grooming
Smarter looking horse
There are different types of clip depending on how much work your horse is in. These include bib, trace, blanket, hunter and full. If your horse is in a low amount of work and does not sweat when ridden then most people would advise not to clip your horse. Horses that are in light/moderate work that sweat lightly during exercise then a bib/trace clip would be advisable. For horses that are in a high amount of exercise, for example horses that are hunting, then most people would advise a full/hunter clip. If you decide to clip your horse in the winter than an appropriate regime of rugging and stabling should be put in place to compensate for the horses natural barriers to the harsh winter conditions.
There is a massive array of types/weight/brands of rugs on the market and the most important thing to think about is the individual horse, every horse reacts differently to temperature. Some of the heavier horses may not need to have the same weight of rug on as a finer horse. Another thing to remember is that a horse has evolved to be able to keep itself warm but its ability to cool itself down is nowhere near as good as its ability to keep itself warm, so advise would be that if you are unsure as to what weight/type of rug to put on your horse to always choose the lighter rug.