How to Clip Your Horse with Confidence

Clipping can be tricky to get the hang of, confidence for both the clipper and the horse are key to success. In this article we will talk about safely clipping nervous and or green horses.

Selecting a blade:

Clipping before an event is important to look smart*

There are a wide range of body clippers on the market available for every need and budget. For body clipping, you’ll want to select a model designed for long periods of clipping that can accommodate wide blades. You can also find smaller clippers ideal for legs and faces. A word to the wise; don’t attempt to use a trimming or touch-up clipper to clip your horse's body. Not only would this take days but it could easily burn out the motor.

Sizes of blades are fairly standard across all manufacturers. The number on the blade relates to the length of the hair left after the hair has been cut. The higher the number on the blade, the shorter the hair will be.

#10 — Coarse cut.

This blade leaves the hair the longest and is great for using on the horse’s legs. Number 10 blades are available in regular and wide sizes; the wider size is usually better for body clipping as it removes more of the coat with each sweep of the clippers

#15 — Medium cut.

This is a good choice for the horse’s head: it is a little shorter than a #10 and is great for those who are confident at clipping

#30 — Medium/Fine cut.

This is a finer cut which is used for removal of hair from the horse’s face, insides of horses’ ears, and around the eyes and nose.

#40 — Fine /surgical cut.

This is not normally used in everyday coat clipping but is used in veterinary practice or settings where skin-close clipping is required.

Clipping Your Horse Successfully

Always work with a partner – clipping can take quite some time and the need to hold the horse and clean and oil the blades will often require two pairs of hands.

  • Start by washing the horse with a pre-clip shampoo to remove any debris which could make clipping more difficult
  • Once dry, brush the coat with a curry comb to remove any residue
  • Prepare a hay net to keep him occupied while clipping (Unless he has been sedated, in which case he should not be allowed to eat until the sedative has worn off.)
  • Ensure you are clipping in a clean, dry and level area – when working with electricity and horses ensure you are completely clear of any water and the horse is restrained in cross ties.
  • Before placing the blades on the horse, switch the clippers on a few feet away from the horse and show him what you are doing. This will prevent him getting spooked or startled by the noise and allow him to prepare for clipping.
  • If you have a nervous horse you can move the clippers over his body before you switch them on to further acclimate your horse.
  • As an extra precaution, consider wearing a helmet and gloves while clipping.
  • Move the clippers gradually over the horse's body, clipping against the grain of the hair. Should your horse grow restless, take a break! Walk your horse around for a few minutes. It is better to take your time and have a positive clipping experience than to risk rushing and creating unnecessary negative associations.
  • When clipping, try to keep the blade flat against the hair, being careful not to move it off and onto the horse's coat. This will not only help create a more professional result but should help keep your horse calmer.
  • When you have finished, use a body brush to remove any loose hair and prevent your horse from rubbing.

We hope our series on clipping has enlightened you on the many facets involved in horse clipping. However, it is always a good idea to seek out a professional horse clipper to teach you “hands-on” or, whom you can hire to do the job for you.

*Image courtesy of Dollar Photo Club