Horse Clipping: Your 'need to know' guide
Unsure if you need to clip or not? Looking for some top tips or clipper recommendations? This handy guide will give you all the clipping information you need, and more!
Why Do We Clip?
- Clipping is beneficial to a horse that will be worked throughout the winter because it prevents the horse from becoming too sweaty and overheating.
- Clipping can also help the overweight horse. Horses who are overweight can be clipped to help them drop a few pounds over the colder months.
- It can help prevent your horse's tack rubbing
- Clipping your horse can cut down on time spent grooming
- Keeping the legs and fetlocks clipped can help prevent conditions such as mud fever as the mud will have no hair to cling onto
- Horses with some health conditions, for example Cushings disease, may be unable to shed out their winter coat in the spring, so clipping does this for them.
Things to consider: Age. An older horse may have more difficulty battling the elements and may need a rug even if not clipped. Make sure appropriate rugs and shelter are available for a horse that has been clipped.
When to Clip
For the average horse the ideal time to clip is October, once their winter coat has come through. Depending on how quickly your horse's coat grows will depend on how often you will need to clip. The average horse will need clipping every 3-5 weeks until Christmas to keep on top of hair growth. Following Christmas you shouldn’t really have to get out your clippers too often, just once or twice depending on the horse. Most people will stop clipping at the end of January as this is roughly the time your horse starts to grow their summer coat. Some competition horses or horses with a thicker coat are clipped all year round.
The type of clip depends on the amount of work you intend to do and how you will keep the horse over winter. If he lives out 24/7 and you only hack out it is unlikely he would need a full clip. See the guide below for a variety of popular clips and their uses (i.e. ideal for light/medium/heavy workload).
Remember: When you clip your horse you are removing his natural protection from the elements so he will need to be rugged appropriately.
Preparation: Make sure your blades are sharpened regularly – instore we offer a clipper blade sharpening service.
On selected dates at our Selby store over winter, you can bring your blades and have them sharpened whilst you wait (or shop!) or leave them with us and collect at a time to suit you. We still have our weekly drop off and collection service.
At the Melton Mowbray store, leave your blades with us and they will be sent off to be sharpened. This usually takes about a week
Make sure your clippers are serviced annually and ensure the horse's coat is clean (a bath the day before is advisable if possible) Have all your equipment ready, including spare blades and clipper oil. Prepare yourself for clipping too and wear old clothing or overalls.
Top Tip: Applying a tail bandage and bunching up the mane and holding in place with plaiting bands stops them getting in the way.
How to Clip?
You’ve now chosen a suitable type of clip for your horse and you’ve got everything prepared. Here is some helpful advice for starting out:
- Mark up where you’re going to clip, using saddle soap or chalk
- Turn the clippers on away from your horse and approach calmly
- Start at the shoulder, as this is a less sensitive area
- Use long, overlapping strokes going against the direction of hair growth
- Pull horse’s skin tight with your free hand and do not attempt to clip folds or wrinkled skin
- When clipping around elbows have a helper pull the front leg forward so you can reach more easily
- Do not force the clippers through the coat. If the blades are not cutting they may need sharpening, or tensioning
- When clipping whorls (where the direction of hair growth changes), change the direction/angle of your clippers accordingly
- Once finished brush off any loose hair with a soft brush
We recommend using a hot cloth (well rung out) on your horse to remove any grease and give a clean finish.
- Remember to brush and oil your clippers every 10 minutes or as needed
- Check that the blades are not getting too hot or blunt; swap them for a spare set if they are
- Drip oil lubricates the blades better than a spray oil
- Have a rug to hand to put on your horse while you’re clipping to help keep them warm. If you’re clipping the neck and chest, for example, you can fold the rug back so that it sits on his quarters
- If using a main clipper, always use a circuit breaker
- Spraying coat shine on your horse's body before you clip will help the clipper glide through
- Use your free hand to pull the chest taught as you clip
- Have some trimmers to hand to get in those hard to reach places around the head and legs
- Make sure your horse is rugged once you've finished clipping
Which clipper or trimmer should I buy:
When it comes to choosing the correct clipper/trimmer to buy and use, there are a few aspects to consider:
The amount of horses to clip: If you will be clipping a full yard of horses you may want to consider a powerful mains powered clipper or a combination mains and battery clipper. If you only have a couple of horses a battery powered clipper should be suitable.
Breed/type of coat: Clippers are all different and some are only appropriate for use on fine hair types. If, for example, you want to clip a Shetland/Cob with a thick coat, heavy duty clippers may be more suitable. You may also want to use A6 coarse blades.
Battery Clippers: If you want a cord free clipper it is worth having two batteries in case one runs out of charge half way through a clip. Some clippers can be operated on a battery and through the mains, which means if the battery does run out you can still complete your horse's clip. Do remember to check the recharge time too. If you need to use them both in one session, you need to make sure they are both fully charged.
Clippers or Trimmers: Trimmers can be used for basic clips, but their main job is tidying up difficult areas such as around the head and legs. Clippers are mainly used for large areas of the body and take up less time as they are generally larger in size. Trimmers are usually lighter, smaller and quieter and so are great for use around more sensitive areas or for use on a young/nervous horse.
Find out whether the clipper or trimmer you are looking at comes with a warranty. A guarantee against material or workmanship defects can give you additional peace of mind if things go wrong.
Wolseley Jay Clipper: The Jay Clipper is one of the top quality battery clipper with optional mains lead adaptor, giving the choice to be used either cordless or from the mains. They have been engineered with precision in Europe to the highest standard to ensure reliability and quality of clip which comes with a 2 year warranty. These clippers are ideal for the single horse owner or for young or nervous horses. These clippers are slim, lightweight, extremely quiet and easy to use, no blade tensioning required.
Wolseley Lapwing Trimmer: The Lapwing Trimmer has a powerful 30 watt battery trimmer, 2 blade speeds and easily adjustable to meet trimming requirements. These trimmers are exceptionally quiet and light. They are also air ventilated to keep them cool. They are supplied in a strong metal case with a set of standard blades, comb attachments to adjust trimming height, brush and oil.
Wolseley Lark Clipper: This is an ideal 'starter' clipper. However, it is also popular with the more experienced or professional equine user due to its powerful and efficient 90 watt permanent magnet motor which gives an excellent quality of clip. It is one of the quietest and lightest mains clippers available and has a slim, non-slip grip hand piece which makes clipping easier and less tiring. This modern and ergonomically designed clipper comes in two bright colours, pink and blue. This clipper also comes with a 2 year warranty.
Liveryman Black Beauty Clippers: The Liveryman Black Beauty Clippers have been designed with expert input from UK & Ireland horse owners and professionals. Black Beauty's sleek design and ergonomic body make it stand out from the traditional chunky clipper handset but its most desirable qualities are hidden beneath the bodywork in its brushless motor. The Black Beauty clipper's brushless motor will provide up to 10,000 hours of work. Cutting performance is smooth due to its unique streamlined aluminium head.
Liveryman Red Rocket: The Liveryman Red Rocket Clipper is a strong 90 watt permanent magnet motor, meaning it will run all day and won't overheat. It is extremely quiet and ideal for nervous horses. It is ideal for medium duty usage and is easy to handle with it having a narrow body. It comes in a hard plastic storage case, complete with A102 blade, oil and cleaning brush.
Liveryman Classic Trimmer: The Liveryman Classic is a classic mains and rechargeable trimmer with a high efficiency brushless motor with 10000 hour lifetime. These have been ergonomically designed for ease of use. They are rechargeable or can be used on the mains.
Wahl Pocket Trimmer: The Wahl Pocket battery powered trimmer is lightweight and small in size making it a tack box essential. They are very quiet and can be easily concealed within the palm of your hand making them ideal for the young or nervous horse. They have a close trimming blade and are battery operated which makes them ideal for trimming the face, ears and even paws on your dog. These trimmers are perfect for touching up at a competition or show which ensures your horse is always looking its best.
Wahl Pro Ion Trimmer Kit: The Pro Ion Trimmer have been ergonomically designed and offers up to 120 minutes cordless operation. The Lithium Ion batteries are fully recharged in 180 minutes, or you can use the trimmer direct from the mains. This balanced, comfortable, easy to use trimmer is perfect for trimming face, ears, bridle path and legs.