Sunday, January 20, 2013

If You're Going To Blanket...

You might as well clip...

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I'm a big fan of clipping - it keeps you from spending hours cooling out and keeps you from getting a nice horse steam facial. Yuck. Clipping does take some practice, and it helps to have

This is the Irish Clip. I do a "modified" where I leave the shoulder (to help prevent blanket rubs) and go down between the legs, and then do the belly about that high to taper off. Sometimes I do the whole belly, some times I leave a strip of hair to prevent drafts - its up to you.

Next is the "low trace clip". Foxie's low trace ended up a little... whimsical, but I like the above design. It's softer than mine: 

Foxie's is a little squarer in the shoulder and higher in the hip (hips are hard, ok?) but it does the job pretty stylishly. 

More cute Fox... How can I resist her!

From there you get into the land of the high trace, which is for a horse in heavy, heavy work or for horses with a lot of hair in a warmer climate. Foxie has a pretty minimal hair coat to begin with (and it's heaviest on her belly) so she could easily get away with a lower clip - and while we were indoors, the indoor wasn't heated or insulated. Foxie, because of the wind and her own peculiarities (a particularly stiff neck) also has Weatherbeeta Oricans with the big crazy hoods. They really made a difference and it worked out great last year. 

And from there, we get into blanket, chaser and other various shapes of clip:

If you need to take more hair off than this... I would tread lightly. 

Clipping isn't easy. I got very lucky my first time, and Foxie was a well behaved little star for her torture. Either hire a pro, enlist a friend who is able to make their horse look good or... be prepared to deal with any and all mistakes you make. I use an inexpensive clipper, but Fox doesn't have too much hair. I clipped a friend's TB with much more hair and they struggled but seemed to recover. I suggest clipping early - October or November to give the horse time to grow back in a bit before the real cold begins, and blanketing with a hood to give the horse back the heat-keeping hair that you clipped off. I use a 10 blade (though I have adjustable 10-15-30 blade clippers) and keep a mid-bristle brush, clipper oil and shine spray on hand.

Here's my clipping rules:

Bath time first - try to start with a clean horse that won't dull your blades with dirt and dander. Then apply some shine spray, brush through, and allow to dry. Mark out your clip (chalk or masking tape - or freehand, if you're very brave) and fire up your clippers. I try to go in smooth strokes with the hair to try to not take too much off. Rest/take breaks often, let the clippers cool when they start to get warm. When it gets hard or starts to suck, let it go and finish another day. I'm also fond of the combs we originally bought to clip our dogs - they let me take a heavy coat off in sections so my clippers take less abuse. Extension cords, good lighting and hair-resistant non velcro clothing are a must. 

And a blanket to turn your poor shorn baby back out with his friends :)

Ashley and (the oft clipped/tortured) Foxie

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