Clipping for the first time can be daunting, if you are anything like me, growing up I watched many people clipping and then one day decided to have a go myself.
My first few clip jobs were not anything too spectacular, however the old age saying “practice makes perfect” is definitely true when it comes to this hairy side of horse management. Here I want to walk you through the steps of your first clip with hopes these tips will cut out some of the trouble areas I first encountered.
Preparing Your Horse and Equipment
- If possible, bathe your horse and allow it to dry prior to clipping. Dirt, sand and mud are the number one reason for poor clip jobs and can also cause dull blades and overheating of the clippers.
- Shapley’s No. 1: Add the oil to hot water, it will keep blades cool while clipping and helps achieve a smoother cut.
- If it is too cold to bathe, wipe a hot towel all over your horse to aid in picking up dirt.
- Clippers: There are a variety of clippers on the market. Personally, my go-to clippers for first timers are the Andis UltraEdge AGC Super 2-speed as they are lightweight and very durable. The blades are interchangeable, so for those of you who do not do a lot of clipping, but do need to trim your horse throughout the year, this clipper can do it all. The running noise level is very quiet, which is very important for more sensitive horses.
- Blades: The Andis UltraEdge T-84 blade is great for all body clipping needs as it can cut hair to 2.4mm.
- Clipper Oil: Oil is your best friend when clipping. To prevent the motor and blades running too hot you must have plenty of oil to apply during your clipping session. I like to have Andis Clipper Oil to apply to blades throughout clipping.
- Andis Blade Care Plus is a great product that does it all. Oils, cleans blades and cools. The handy jar is wide enough to place your T-84/T-10 blades in and clean them, thus removing the need for an open container of clipping oil.
- Extension lead: Long enough to reach clearly around your whole horse without them stepping on the cord.
- Brush: To remove excess hair from horse and clippers
- Towels: One to remove excess oil and one to wipe T.N. Dickinson’s Witch Hazel over the clipped area to remove oil and remaining dirt in the coat.
Safety is the number one priority. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to do the job, as you want this experience to be good for you and the horse. Rushing will lead to a poor clip job and possible harm to the horse or yourself. Depending on the clip style you have chosen, you will need to give yourself 1 to 3 hours. If on the longer side, bathroom breaks for you and your horse will be needed.
Check to be sure you have all your equipment ready, handy within reaching distance and it is working correctly. If extension cords are required, make sure you have enough length that they give a wide birthe around the front and rear of the horse. Never put extension cords over, or under your horse. Ideally, it is best to position your horse in cross ties that have a back. This helps to prevent the horse from going backwards and pulling on cross ties and freaking out. I would always advise to have someone around in the barn to help, should things go wrong as horses can be very unpredictable.
Do not delve into clipping by directly touching the horse with the clippers. To start, have the horse unhooked and show the horse the clippers while turned off. Then run them over their body to take note of his facial expressions and body language. If these are positive, stress free signs, turn the clippers on, but still not touching the body. If the horse stills seems unnerved then run the clippers, turned on over their body, again taking note of the reactions.
If your horse is staying quiet, attach the cross ties and begin clipping on the shoulder first, by using strokes going against the direction of growth hair.
TIP: Keep the blade flat against the skin. Apply enough pressure that would leave an indentation on a grape, but not penetrate the skin.
Always have your free hand touching the horse, this is a calming effect, but also allows you to feel tension in your horse if you start to clip an area that they are nervous about. Check the blade temperature every 5 to 10 minutes by placing the blade on the back of your hand. Use this time to apply Andis Clipper Oil to the blades. Use a towel to remove excess oil before resuming clipping. Be very careful around loose skin areas such as elbows, stifles and the chest as blades are sharp enough to cut skin. Use your free hand to stretch the skin while clipping. If some hairs are not getting clipped move your clippers in a ‘star’ pattern over the area to catch those hairs. Once you have finished clipping, brush off excess hair, wipe down your horse with witch hazel and look for spots you have missed and need to go over.
Taking Care of Your Equipment
- Brush off any excess hair from the blades. Remove the motor shield and brush off the hair from this area.
- Run the blades in the Andis Care Plus for 10 seconds. Remove excess oil and then remove the blades.
- Wrap blades in newspaper to prevent rusting between clipping sessions.