Problems that occur frequently during the winter clipping season, are blades that aren’t cutting properly, tension incorrectly set, and clippers malfunctioning during use or before even starting. If the horse is then difficult to handle when the clippers are turned on, clipping can become a very stressful time!
Ideally check clipping equipment before it is needed and if in doubt, send it off for servicing and blade sharpening early as the workshop here gets very busy from September 1st! Other checks to make are for breaks/damage to cables and leads, and for extra safety on mains clippers add a circuit breaker. This will ensure the horse and operator won’t get an electrical shock if the lead does get stepped on.
The most common clipping problems are “my blades are not cutting” or “my blades are chewing through the coat”. Both are due to either blunt blades or incorrect tensioning. Most makes of clippers will tension in different ways. If you are not sure, check with the manufacturer or a clipper specialist for further advice. If blades are tensioned too tightly they will get very hot and cause stress to the motor of the clipper, if they are too loose they won’t clip properly and give a chewed affect. If in doubt ask a clipper specialist for advice before sending in or go direct to the manufacturer for advice if needed too.
It is a sensible option to keep a spare set of blades to change to over to when blades do go blunt, or if they do get hot, it is much nicer for the horse to be clipped with cool blades, and your horse will appreciate this by not fidgeting.
The tension set which holds the blades together and comes in three parts – spring, bolt and nut – also needs replacing on a reasonably regular basis, and is something that we replace when a machine is sent in for service. Again if you are having problems with tensioning this can also be one of the causes. The spring can become distorted after a while and although won’t look any different, will affect the overall tension.
To get the maximum life out of blades, make sure your horse is well groomed and as clean as possible. Even a small amount of grit or dirt will make a new set of freshly sharpened blades blunt in minutes. If the horse is well groomed, it is possible to get up to 6 or 7 clips out of one set of blades, although the average is more like 2-3 clips per set.
Oiling blades regularly (at least every 10 minutes) will ensure that the blades are kept well lubricated, as cool as possible, and also help to keep the edge on them too.
If the clipper suddenly stops whilst clipping, don’t panic, sometimes the overload switch can pop out. This is for safety reasons, and is to stop the machine over-heating. The button is normally found at the back of the hand-piece and can be pushed back in with a match stick or biro and this will start it up again. However, be aware that it has popped out for a reason. Check that the blades are not too hot, the air vent isn’t blocked up and the hand-piece isn’t too hot to hold. If it runs again and then stops, then the machine will have to be looked at by a professional.
To ensure that clipping equipment is kept in good order, clean well after use, brush off all residue hair from the machine, remove and brush off air vents, remove and clean blades and store in a dry area. Damp tack rooms are not ideal for clippers, and cause hidden problems when damp gets into the electrical components.