Friday, October 26, 2012


Today I wanted to talk about clipping. I only started clipping horses around two years ago, as I got more and more frustrated with sweaty pony making me late getting back to school because she took hours to dry off. Foxie is prone to the winter skin funks (remember dark damp warm?) and works hard under saddle, and I am not too fond of the pony steam facial. Ick!

When I started clipping I was using my cordless Wahl Cordless Pro with a 10 blade:
Shockingly, for a show prep clipper, it worked really well, and was light and well shaped for my hand. I had to clip with the cord plugged in, but it was still a nice multi purpose clipper. I decided that the blades were a bit dull and purchased some new ones for my second (last year) of clipping, and I think the motor had finally had it (they are 5+ years old!). They were quickly replaced with these:

The Wahl Show Pro. Again, I resisted buying a mega body clipping clipper (those things cost hundreds!) and bought something that cost 35$. We also purchased some combs and use it to clip our Australian Shepherds. Its a solid clipper with only two flaws- the handle on the left side tends to move, but a proactive person can use tape (or just keep an eye on it) to make sure that you don't shift from a ten to a 30 blade when clipping (MAJOR difference in length left behind). The other flaw is serious #whitegirlproblems - the cord is a little short, and thus you need an extension cord. Biiiiig deaaaaalll. But worth noting. Its a little more vibrate-ey, but not nearly as bad as a giant body clipper, and stayed relatively cool when I was using it.

Clipping supplies:
Clippers - 10 or 15 blade for most clips - a  30 blade is too close
Extension Cord
Well lit area, preferably with cross ties
Clipper brush, oil, blade wash/cooler if you feel fancy
A dry, clean (preferably freshly bathed) horse
Tape or chalk if you are worried about getting lines correct
Approximately two hours of free time

I like to give a bath the day before and make sure the horse is nice and clean, and dry. A wet horse dulls your clipper blades - and so does a dirty one. I usually spray the horse liberally down with a shine spray before hand to make the hair optimally easy for clipping. I find that using body markers works best and ends up looking nice and symmetrical- meaning that I measure distances using horse's body marks. This works especially well for doing necks and throat areas.

The clips I do are either a modified irish, or bib clip that goes up higher than this picture:

But doesn't clip the shoulder, which I like to leave hairy for blanket rub reasons.

Last year I ended up doing a somewhat whimsical interpretation of the below, low trace clip. It got kind of out of hand... 

The hips got a little high, and I squared off the front, but I think it was kind of cute! It was definitely nice to be able to pull my saddle off and have a horse that was exactly as sweaty as she was in this picture. Not bad, huh?

When clipping, always go with the grain of the hair. Hips and whorls are hard, because the hair goes in all directions, and I think that's why my hip clips got a little crazy. Go slow, give yourself plenty of time, and remember, you can always leave a job partially done - you could even be nice and make sure the blanket covers the undone spots so your horse's friends don't laugh at him. I always try to wear something slick that hair will slide off of, and good light really helps to keep you from getting too close and inhaling your horse's hair. Velcro, or wearing a polar fleece jacket is a bad idea if you ever want it to be clean again...

Also, remember that you are taking your horse's natural blanket away from him when you clip (even if it does make him more comfortable!) and have a selection of blankets on hand to keep him warm in all conditions. Foxie didn't get clipped until November, and I try to resist touching up in January or February. She went on a coat supplement (Smartpak's Smartshine) in the late winter as a shedding helper, and I have never had her shed out funny, or felt that it messed with her coat. If your horse starts coating up in early October, I'd give him a few weeks to get the coat started, then clip, and let the rest of the coat grow in, so you don't take too much off, but still get the relief of clipping.

See, not too scary, huh?

Ashley & Fox

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