Helpful Tips On Clipping

Heading towards fall, we'll soon see temperatures begin dropping. For our horses, this often means transitioning from a slick summer coat to a thicker winter version. This is Mother Nature’s way of insulating horse's from lower temperatures, rain, snow, etc. However, given the workouts we give our horses when we exercise them, this also means increased sweating and potential overheating

clipping your horse

In our previous blog post, we discussed some of the most popular clips used and the strategies behind them. In this article, we will dig further into the thinking involved in selecting a clip as well as the best ways to execute your selected clip style.

  1. Choose the right clipper blades.
  2. The number listed on the blade is relevant to the hair's length after clipping. The higher the blade number, the shorter the remaining hair will be. You should select the blade based on your clipping goals. The good thing is; these sizes are fairly standard regardless of the manufacturer.

#40: Surgical or Fine Cut
Much as its name suggests, this blade clips the horse's hair fairly close to the skin. In fact, if you were to review the horse's skin after clipping, you would see tiny nicks or abrasions, everywhere you had clipped.

#30: Medium or Fine Cut
While the size of this blade is still finer than the #15 Blade, also called the "Medium Cut," this is the size most commonly used by show barns for removing hair from the horse's face, inside the horse's ears and around his eyes and nose.

#15: Medium or Fine Cut
This blade cuts the horse's hair slightly shorter than the #10 or "Course Cut," blade, making it the blade of choice for many people when clipping their horse's faces and heads.

#10: Coarse Cut
This is the clipping blade designed to leave the horse's hair the longest. Many folks utilize this blade for body clipping. Most clippers come with this blade, standard. It is an excellent choice for clipping the horse's legs so that there is still some protection. Number 10 blades are offered in both wide and regular sizes, with the wide size being the blade of choice for most body clipping projects. If you're concerned about clipping in curvy areas such as the ears, consider the Andis T84 #10 blade.

  1. Oil your blades

Always oil your blades with clipper oil, prior to clipping. Reapply clipper oil periodically during the process. Always wipe the blades with a brush and wipe off excess oil before reapplying. You will notice a change in the sound of the clippers as they become thirsty for more oil.

Clip against the grain of the coat using long, sweeping strokes for best effect. Keep an even pressure to avoid creating lines and markings. It's critical that you allow the clippers to move gently through the coat rather than pushing them forcefully. A gentle approach will help keep nicks and cuts to a minimum.

  1. Keep the clippers in contact with the body at all times – taking them off and on can antagonize the horse.
  2. Pull the skin taut and flat beneath the clippers to minimize nicks.
  3. For whorls and changes in coat direction, ensure you change the direction of your clippers for a flat and neat coat. Go widthways under the abdomen and then do a second pass diagonally to remove any fluff.
  4. Before you begin, mark the lines where you intend to clip with chalk. To ensure the clip is even on both sides drape a piece of string over the horse's back to give a level to clip to. To keep the saddle patch as the correct shape, place the saddle pad on your horse’s back and clip an area with about 3/4" outside the shape of the pad.
  5. Clip legs following the line of muscle at the top of the leg. Start with the point of the muscle at the back of the leg and run the clippers up, then clip up the muscle at the front.
  6. Use an adjustable halter so you can undo the noseband and throat lash to clip your horse’s head – particularly for difficult horses
  7. If you have a young or nervous horse, you may wish to consider giving him a calmer or sedative to ensure your horse is not spooked by the noise of the clippers. In fact, given how infrequently horses are clipped, you may want to consult with your vet about any horse you're planning to clip.
  8. If your horse is fidgety when he is having his head clipped, start gradually under the jaw and try to use a set of smaller, quieter clippers designed for the face. You can also place your hand over his eyes to keep hair out when clipping around the head. Often people split clipping a horse's head into two sessions on successive days, to minimize the horse's stress.
  9. To avoid clipping into the mane and tail, braid the mane and bandage the top of the tail prior to starting.
  10. Make sure you do not clip your horse in a damp or wet environment. Keep the cord away from the horse’s hooves and do not stand on anything unstable while clipping. Safety should be your topmost priority.
  11. Leave an upside down V shaped patch of hair directly above the top of tail. This protects the hair at the top of the tail and looks professional.
  12. After clipping, pamper your horse with a soft body brush and a clean and warm damp cloth to remove all excess hair. This will eliminate potentially itchy hair remnants and help diminish potential inflammation from nicks.

For more tips on coat care, see our article on grooming and come back to Spalding soon.