Nature gives horses and ponies a thicker, warmer coat in the winter, but this can become a burden when the horse is in exercise over the colder months. To solve the problem of horses losing condition through excess sweating, many riders clip this thick woolly coat for their horse’s comfort. Warm rugs are then used to replace the natural winter coat, so your horse stays nice and cosy when not in work.
You can either get the help of a professional to clip your horse, or learn the ropes yourself. We advise watching someone clipping who knows what they’re doing before you attempt it yourself, and when you first do a clip, try to start on a horse that you know will behave itself!
Pre clipping care should include cleaning your horse/pony thoroughly before you start, either by giving them a good groom to remove excess dust and mud, or where possible shampoo their coat. However, you must ensure they are thoroughly dry before starting, as clippers dislike clipping through wet coat, and will get clogged up.
Check your environment before you begin; ensure your horse/pony is settled and relaxed, a large hay net may help. Also remove any objects that may get in the way and ensure there is a good light source if you are clipping in the evening (where possible try to clip in broad daylight).
Always use good quality, sharp clippers for a faster cut with fewer tracks- do not use blunt clippers as sharp clippers run cooler, and hotter clippers may upset the horse. You can also choose between cordless clippers or clippers with a lead; bear in mind that cordless clippers will remove a hazardous lead but may run out of power unless kept well charged.
Always clip against the natural lay of the hair, keeping the blades down close to the skin- do not hold them at a steep angle. Always take your time when clipping as a slow clipping action will give the smoothestresults.
After use, clean the clippers and oil the blades using a light, non-toxic oil. You can also keep the clippers well oiled throughout clipping, as this will keep them clean and clog-free.
When clipping a horse that has never been clipped before, or a nervous horse spend some time getting the horse used to the clippers first. You could also clip an older horse that is good to clip with the young horse nearby, so they can get used to the noise.
Run the clippers over the skin while grooming the young horse, to let them get accustomed to the feel of the movement of the clippers.
Introduce the clippers carefully and let the horse see them while they are turned off; then take the clippers away and turn them on. Gauge the horse’s reaction and if the horse is relaxed, bring the clippers to the horse and place them on their shoulder. Once the horse has accepted the sound and vibration you can start clipping but be aware of the horse’s body language and only do as much as the horse is comfortable with.
If you are worried about getting straight lines, you could draw the clip out in chalk before you begin as a guide. Always be careful when clipping around the mane and forelock. You don’t want to slip and chop a section of hair off by mistake!
Finally, if the horse has to be clipped and is a danger to itself and you during the process, seek advice from your vet about having the horse sedated.
Extra pointers on clipping a horses head:Always make sure the blades are cool before clipping the head, do not leave it till last as the horse may have become bored and will be less likely to stand still for you.Go very gently and be careful around the bony areas of the face, you could try using some smaller head trimmers on the face if the horse does not accept larger, noisier ones.Place your hand over the eye of the horse when clipping close to it to protect it and help the horse to settle; you may also find it easier to take the hay net away at this point so the horses head stays still.If the horse is quiet it is easier to clip the head if the head collar is round the neck, rather than on the head; you could use a bridle to help control the horse if this is needed.
Caring for your clippers:Firstly, brush off all the loose hairs and remove the tension set and the blades when you finish a clip.Next, clean the blades with a brush and put them away. Do not put them back on the handset while in storage. Clean the handset and pack away carefully, and store your clippers in a cool, dry, placeAlways send your clippers and blades away at the end of the clipping season to be serviced and sharpened ready for the following year.
Pick up a copy of the October Issue today to find out about the various styles of clip, and what would suit your horse.