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    Staying safe when clipping

    11th July 2018

    Staying safe when clipping

    Staying safe when clipping 

    Mains electricity and animals are a recipe for disaster if basic safety checks are not made on a regular basis. 

    Before even starting to clip, check all the equipment and blades are in good order and are working.  If in doubt, send them off for servicing and blade sharpening to a clipper specialist.  Check any cables and leads that connect to the clipper for damage and add a circuit breaker for added safety if using mains clippers.  This will ensure the horse and operator won’t get an electrical shock if the lead does get stepped on.

    Electrical equipment needs to be meticulously maintained and safety tested on a regular basis – at least once a year if used regularly throughout the clipping season.  When clippers are not in use, store them in a dry area and not outside in a tack room where damp can get in and damage the electrics.

    Check the correct tensioning for the clipper that you are using.  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 and hurt the horse.

    Make sure you clip in a dry area with a non-slip floor, and ideally rubber matting is perfect when using mains clipper.  Always ensure the lead is off the floor and kept over one shoulder.  When oiling blades, ensure a proper clipper oil is used, as this is designed to be used on clippers.  General lubrication oil is normally too heavy in consistence, for this purpose. 

    If you are using a mains clipper, with a long lead, ensure the lead is kept over the shoulder and as off the ground and out of the way as possible keeping away from legs and hooves.

    Never dip blades that are running in any kind of liquid to cool, this is very dangerous particularly if it is into paraffin, petrol or diesel.  This seems to be a tip that has been passed down with no consideration for safety!  There are purpose made cooling lotions, for dipping blades into which both cool and disinfect, and this is a good idea, particularly when clipping numerous horses and will prevent cross infection.

    We advise wearing a riding hat and sturdy footwear, just in case the animal does get fidgetty or panics.  Safety for the handler must always be paramount, and if a horse is proving particularly difficult, or dangerous, it is best to stop or get veterinary help in for sedation purposes.

    It is worth taking time to de-sensitive nervous or young horses to the clipper noise.  This can be done over a period of time, and best incorporated into time spent when grooming.  

     

    How to safely trim a fidgety horse

    If a horse is particularly fidgety or ticklish in any area, it will mean careful handling to enable safe clipping and trimming.  With any situation, make it as easy as possible, and if you can do a little bit each day over a period of time to build up confidence, then this slow approach is often the best.

    Always make sure that the area that you are going to clip on the horse is dry and clean, and make sure blades are sharp.  There is nothing worse than trying to clip thick hair on legs to find that the blades are not cutting properly.  Sometimes it is better to clip with a coarse grade of blade on the thicker hair which will also mean the blade will go through more easily. 

    You are best to get an experienced helper if the horse is proving very fidgety.  Distraction with food, ear plugs and music sometimes does help and all should be tried if it is a noise issue.  If the horse has been clipped with blunt blades or has itchy legs and is sore, then you will have more of a problem, as he will have to gain trust in you that what you are about to do to him will not cause him any more discomfort.  I find it is sometimes easier if the helper can hold the opposite leg up, this can allow you a short time to get clipping whilst the weight is on the other leg.  Often, using a trimmer is better to start with, especially to get their trust and it is easier to use in the heels and fiddly areas.  If the horse looks like he is going to kick out or be particularly difficult, it is sensible to weigh up the options on a safety basis for both handler and horse and seek veterinary advice with regard to sedation if necessary.  There are other handling options including using a humane twitch, however every horse and situation is different, and I have found that most react more strongly when restrained and patience is generally the best course of action. 

    How to trim around the head safely

    Trimming around the head needs to be done really carefully as a sudden movement when clippers or trimmers are in the hand could cause harm.  Once the horse has trust in what you are doing on the body areas, you can then move on to the head, but I would suggest always using trimmers first.  Most trimmers these days are battery operated and are very quiet.  This will enable you to trim under the jaw around the eyes and ears without the horse being bothered by a loud machine noise.  Once they have been accustomed to this, then most will let you use full size clippers on the larger areas of the head and down the front of the face.  If you are using large clippers on the head area, and they have been used on the body for general clipping, make sure you check that the blades are completely cold before using them. 

    If the horse is not happy around the head area, then just try tidying under the jaw and gradually working to clipping half the head leaving a bridle line instead of clipping the whole head.

    Battery Operated Clippers

    Thank goodness for battery operated clippers!  There are now several manufacturers making full size battery operated clippers that can give 2-3 hours running work time.  These do take 4-5 hours to re-charge, so it is a case of being prepared beforehand and ensuring that they have a full charge before starting to clip. Alternatively some brands have batteries that are integral and if two are purchased, this will then give the user continual power, as one can be re-charged as the other is being used.

    Battery operated clippers also require less servicing as the hand piece is a sealed unit and hair can’t be sucked in like the conventional electric clippers which have an air vent on the side.  However, as the machine relies on the battery, care must be taken on keeping it in good condition.  When the battery is not being used always make sure it is stored fully charged, this will prolong the life of the battery as well as being in a condition to be used when needed.

    Lithium iron type batteries are now used in the newer machines and these give a longer work time and shorter charge time compared with the older style nickel cadmium type batteries. 

    Re-chargeable clippers are much safer to use and ideal for horses that are tricky to clip as there are no trailing leads to worry about.

    The importance of correct tensioning 

    Check the correct tensioning for the clipper that you are using.  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 and hurt the horse.

    There are some clippers that take the “snap on” type blades which enable the blade to be fixed by pushing on to the head of the clipper.  Once this is on, there is no tension needed as they will have been pre-tensioned by the manufacturer or clipper specialist when the blades have been sharpened and assembled.

    Please feel free to share your clipping tips with us at any time either via our FB page or through Instagram or by email.

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