Top 10 horse clipping tips

By Julie Harding on |

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Your horse has grown a heavy winter coat and he sweats up during exercise. Autumn is the right time for the season’s first clip, but where do you start? Here are our top 10 horse clipping tips

1. Get horse clipping advice

Even the quietest horses can become nervous when clipped, so if you are new to clipping always have an expert or knowledgeable friend on hand to help and give advice. They will also be able to pull the front legs forward to straighten out the skin in the tricky elbow area for clipping. A very nervous horse may need to be given a sedative by a vet prior to clipping.

2. Ensure that the clipper blades are sharp.

Ideally, you will have sent them away the previous winter for sharpening so that they are ready for the autumn. Blunt clippers will do a shoddy job and it will be an uncomfortable experience for the horse. You will need to switch your clippers off at intervals to allow them to cool. Also clean and oil the blades regularly.

3. Clip a clean horse

Ensure that the horse is clean and mud and dirt free, otherwise you will clog up your clippers and they will quickly become blunt.

4. Know where to clip

Mark the lines of the clip with chalk

5. Let your horse know you are going to clip him

Never walk up to the horse and commence clipping without showing him the clippers first, particularly if he has a tendency to be nervous. Likewise, switch on the clippers from a distance, so that he can get used to the noise before you approach.

6. Clip in order

Start clipping on the neck or shoulders, then proceed to the body and the hindquarters. Don’t clip into the mane, except to create a narrow bridle path just behind the ears.

7. Clip carefully

To clip, push the clippers against the grain of the hair, using long, sweeping strokes, applying even pressure. Keep all strokes parallel and slightly overlapping the previous clip line. Go carefully, particularly on delicate folds of skin.

8. Keep your horse warm

As you proceed, throw a rug over the horse to prevent him getting cold.

9. Mind the face

Use great care when clipping the face, ideally employing smaller clippers or trimmers.

10. Keep the legs tidy

If you leave the legs unclipped, trim the fetlocks and pasterns for a neat appearance.

Types of horse clipping

Full clip

For horses who are shown, competed regularly or are in fast work, such as racehorses, all the body hair is removed. Sometimes the hair is left on the legs. An inverted V is left over the tail. Proper rugging is essential following a full clip.

Hunter clip

As its name implies, this is popular clip for horses in moderate to heavy work, including hunters. The body is clipped, with hair left only on the legs and a patch for the saddle. If you are doing one of these, use the saddle, not the numnah as a template.

Blanket clip

In this case, a large patch of hair is left on the horse’s back, loins and hindquarters, while that on the neck, shoulders, flanks and belly (and sometimes head) is removed. This is also ideal for those in moderate to heavy work.

Trace clip

This comes in low, medium and high options, depending on how much of the body hair is removed. In the high version, more hair is clipped. Trace clips are suitable for horses that live out (provided they are rugged up) or stabled horses in fairly light work. Hair is left on the upper part of the neck and along the back, loins and hindquarters, as well as the legs. In the case of a high trace, the lower part of the face is sometimes clipped too.

Underbelly and neck clip

This is ideal for horses that live out and are used for light work. Only a small area of hair from the neck and under the belly is removed.

Read about when and why to clip your horse

Image: Clipped horse by Alan Fieldus via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

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