Keep your horse healthy and comfortable with these great clipping tips...

Clipping your horse at this time of the year improves your horses comfort and makes grooming far easier and effective. The horses coat will naturally be getting thicker at this time of year as they prepare for the cold winter months, that makes it difficult to clean, dry and groom the sweaty areas thoroughly. Girth rubs and saddle sores can be easily missed in a full coat, allowing them to fester and become infected. The full benefit of the winter rugs can also be appreciated relieving the fear of over heating or irritating a wet and dirty long coat.

fully clipped_horseIf you are not confident about clipping your own horse, always ask a professional to do it for you, it is money well spent, as it is not an easy job.

The clippers should be well maintained and serviced, have at least two sets of sharpened or new blades available which are well lubricated, also check that the cable has no exposed wires and the plug is in good condition.

If you are unsure as to how your horse will react to the clippers try our top tip of using an electric toothbrush  and then start the clippers and observe his reaction as you walk all the way around him without actually touching him. 

Finally rest the clippers on your horse and gently move them backwards so they are not cutting but making the horse aware of the sound, sensation and vibration, continue on various parts of the body to be sure your horse is totally relaxed and at ease with the feeling.

Wearing overalls when clipping is recommended, as the hair gets everywhere and you need to have free movement without bulky or loose clothing. If possible clip in daylight or a very well lit area, on a clear floor to make the clearing up easier, remember to have the clipper oil, grooming brush and steps, if needed, ready. If an extension cable is required, try and keep the flex away from where the horse will stand and do not allow it to become tangled around their feet.

Tie you horse up securely preferably without a hay net so they stay still, brush your horse thoroughly and once you have decided which type of clip you are going to have mark the lines on the coat with chalk, lipstick, or saddle soap.
clipping front_leg_line
The legs are usually left unclipped as the coat forms a natural barrier to weather elements.
Keep the blades parallel to the skin, moving with slow smooth strokes.

Do not angle the blades too steeply as it will snag on the skin and in some cases cause 'wheal' marks and tramlines. Always clip against the run of the hair paying particular attention with whorls, this is where the hair goes in all directions.

 Keep the blades clear of hair build up with a clean, dry paint brush or soft body brush and regularly apply light clipper oil. The sound made by the clippers changes when lubricated to a quieter smoother sound and it helps lower the temperature of the blades.

The blades will become hot after a time so either change to a fresh pair of cold blades or let them cool down before continuing. The head is a very awkward and sensitive area to clip, if your horse is a little nervous leave the face on and clip the cheeks to the bridle line and the whiskers from the chin and jaw line.
Be especially careful clipping along the mane line - do not get too close to the mane and if you accidently clip some mane, do not try and correct it as this will always make it worse.

The most popular types of clip.

Trace clip - ideal for a horse or pony that lives mainly outside and is only in light work or hacking. This clip removes all the hair on the underneath of the belly and the neck only.

Blanket Clip - as the name suggests all the coat is removed apart from a blanket area over the saddle area and back. Suitable for a horse or pony in regular work that does not grow a heavy thick coat.
saddle clip
Hunter Clip - all the coat is clipped off apart from a saddle patch and the legs - Mark around a numnah or your saddle to get the correct shape and position and clip one inch inside that line so that when saddled is on no coat can be seen.

An area such as the one shown opposite is also widely used which is easier to do.

When clipping the line at the top of the front legs, take a point just below the elbow and follow the line upwards, at a rough angle of 45 degrees to the front of the leg then do the same on the inside being very careful with all the folds and creases of skin in the elbow area.

clipping hind_leg_line

On the hind legs take a point about 8 inches above the point of the hock, make a V and follow the line up to the point of stifle on the outside and use the same angle on the inside of the thigh.

When you have finished clipping, brush off any remaining hair with a soft brush and curry comb, then use a dampened, cloth with hot water and soda crystals, to scrub away the exposed grease and dirt, admire your work and rug the horse up snugly

Always clean your clippers thoroughly when you have finished by removing the blades and clearing all the hair residue from them, the motor area and the filters. Oil well and wrap in greaseproof paper to prevent rusting.

Obviously different breeds grow different thickness' of coats, however all will grow quickly up until January, so clipping may well be needed every 3 weeks or even less in some cases to maintain the smart appearance.
Read more grooming articles including Tail bandaging, Quartering, Health benifits of grooing a horse