Top Tips for Clipping
Before you start clipping – points to remember:
Ensure machine has been serviced and blades have been sharpened before using them at the beginning of a new season.
Make sure the machine is correctly tensioned – check manufacturer’s recommendations – each make of clipper will tension in a different way. Blades will heat up more quickly if tension is too tight and not clip properly if too loose.
Ensure your horse is clean and dry. Any lumps of dirt or grit will quickly blunt the blades and make it hard work for the clippers to get through the coat.
Bandage the horse’s tail and plait over the mane to keep all the hair out of the way.
Think about the type of clip you need, which is going to depend on the amount of work and how much he usually sweats. The more you take off, the more you will have to rug and feed.
It’s often easier to mark out the clipping lines before starting. Use chalk for outlining. Study the muscle lines on the legs and mark out accordingly.
If you are using a mains powered machine, ensure a circuit breaker is fitted.
Clip in a dry, well lit area with non slip flooring.
It will be more stress free for you and your horse if you avoid feed and turnout times.
Have a hay net ready to tie up once you have clipped the head. This tends to help keep a horse still whilst clipping.
Have an assistant at the ready, particularly if it’s the first time you have clipped, or the horse’s first time of being clipped.
Wear appropriate clothing – ie overalls (not fleece as the hair will cling!), sturdy footwear, and keep a cap on or tie hair back. If dealing with a youngster or difficult horse it is a good idea to put a hard hat on.
Applying a spray coat gloss to the body hair before clipping, makes it easier to glide through the hair.
Have a rug handy to put over the areas that have been clipped.
Oil blades at least every 10 minutes.
Keep a spare set of blades handy to change over to when doing the head and sensitive areas, so that they are totally cool.
Use appropriate clipper oil, not WD40, cooking oil, linseed oil etc. This will ensure that the blades are correctly lubricated, and help to keep blades as cool as possible. Barrier Hygiene produce a really good clipper oil for sensitive skins and it smells nice too!
Check cable regularly for any breaks, and try to keep the cable away from horses’ feet. Keep it over shoulder and then let it drop down.
DO NOT immerse clipper blades in any type of liquid to cool whilst still running. The safest way is just to change to another set of blades which are totally cold.
Clip in long lines, going against the coat. Keep the blades parallel to the coat and keep an even pressure. Make sure you slightly overlap each line you are clipping to avoid “tram lines”.
Use a weighted piece of string over your horse to ensure that both sides of the clip are level.
Use a set of trimmers to tidy up any difficult/sensitive areas, it’s a lot quicker and easier in the long run.
Have your assistant/helper handy when clipping between front legs. By stretching the leg out in front, it will reduce the risk of nicking the horse, as this is the area where there are folds of skin and particular care must be taken.
If the blades appear to be struggling through the coat, re-check tension and/or change to a new set and see if this helps. Don’t force them through as you will end up with an upset and hard to clip horse.
If the machine suddenly stops, don’t panic, check the re-set button which will flick out automatically when the motor gets very hot. If it has come out, push back in with a matchstick or biro tip. If it pops out again, then contact your clipper specialist for further advice.
If you are dealing with a young or sensitive horse, don’t try to do it all in one session. Preparation and de-sensitisation is time well spent. Practice during the summer months, and incorporate running the machine whilst grooming.
If you have never clipped before, watch and get help and advice from an experienced person.
In the event that the horse proves to be a liability to clip, contact your Veterinary Surgeon for further advice on sedation options.
Use very warm soapy water and sponge the horse all over to remove loose hair and excess grease. Dry thoroughly and rug up as necessary.
Remove blades from the machine and with a soft brush, brush off excess hair from blades and machine. Remove air vent if the machine has one, and brush out. Wash vent with soapy water and replace.
Oil blades and replace in protective covering.
Check the lead for any breaks or signs of wear.
Store clippers in a dry environment, not in a damp tack room as this environment can cause the capacitor to deteriorate very quickly.