What clipper should I choose and why?
Do you fancy the idea of clipping your horse yourself? Or are you looking to replace a trusty old clipper? In either case, it’s worth spending time researching the right type or brand, rather than leaving it as a last minute purchase. Clippers, if looked after, should last a good few years and are an expensive item, so being ill advised or buying in a rush is not a good idea.
If you choose to do a search on ‘Google’ for a specific brand of clipper then you will come up with numerous sites offering machines at various prices. Make a phone call to the seller before you buy, as so often the purchaser buys on price alone and then finds the clipper is not able to cope with the work being asked.
Take advice from a specialist dealer who will ask you numerous questions to build up a picture of what your requirements are, the number of horses being clipped regularly, whether there are any handling/sensitivity issues and whether there needs to be a preference for mains or battery clippers.
From the information that is given, it will be easier to match requirements with a suitable type or brand of clipper. With everything, if you buy on price alone and expect a £99 light duty machine to clip a yard full of horses you may be disappointed to find that it won’t do the job! So be realistic and honest with your expectations and requirements.
A guide to the type of clippers available falls into four categories – Light Duty, Medium Duty, Heavy Duty and Re-chargeable.
1. Light Duty clippers are designed more for the one horse owner for clipping one horse on a regular basis or for part clips, generally coping only with the shorter, finer coats. This type of clipper is really a very large trimmer with a wide blade on it. They are much quieter than a medium duty clipper as they have a totally different motor, and are not so powerful which means less noise. It does also mean clipping takes a little longer than with the larger clippers. However, they very much have their place in the market place and are a great introduction for young or sensitive horses as they are very quiet. The blade system they use is a “snap on” one which is easy to fit and avoids any tensioning issues. These blades can still be re-sharpened.
2. Medium duty clippers fall within the most popular range, and appeal to the majority of private horse owners that require up to 3 or 4 animals to be clipped on a regular basis. These clippers take conventional blades which have to be tensioned, and can usually cope with virtually all types of hair. Most machines are supplied with a medium set of blades, but finer or coarser blades are available as a separate purchase if the coat or the finish needs to be closer or coarse.
Most machines in this category are reasonably easy to hold, although there are some that are slightly narrower in the body or shaped. These also tend to be slightly lighter to hold over a lengthy period of time, and are generally favoured by users that have small hands.
3. Heavy duty clippers, are designed to be used for more commercial purposes; for example, larger yards, where they may have to clip upwards of four or more horses a day or over a concentrated period. The motors are more powerful and designed for more constant, heavy work. This however can make the machine noisy, and the hand piece can be quite heavy. However, recently some manufacturers have taken this on board and there are a couple of brands that are now much the same weight as the medium duty clippers, and handle really well too.
4. Re-chargeable clippers. These are powered by a battery and normally attached to a belt or clip onto a waistband. If access to power is limited or no mains power is available this would be the best option. This type of machine is also good for difficult and young horses and is the safest means of clipping animals as a lead is not going to get in the way or trodden on. There are a couple of brands within this range that also offer the ability to connect to the mains too which does make for a very versatile option.
Normally there is a time limit for use when using a battery powered clipper but with the more recently designed power packs, most are able to give a clipping time of 3 hours or more, which is normally quite sufficient for clipping or part clipping a couple of horses at a time.
Points to consider: Avoid connecting mains clippers to generators as this is may cause long-term problems to the clipper armature (motor) when there are power surges.
If you have other animals to clip – it’s worth asking at the time of purchase if the clipper can cope with other types of clipping requirements. Some of the larger machines, have interchanging heads or different types of blades that can be used for cattle and sheep and other livestock.
Light duty clippers can also be used for dog clipping as there is such a wide choice of grades of blades, and all can be used with the plastic add on graders for dog grooming.
Most manufacturers include good clear instructions within their packaging, but it is worth mentioning that the blade tensioning instructions for each type of machine are adhered to. Each brand of machine has a different tensioning method. If the tension isn’t correctly set the blades will not cut correctly and may also cause excess heat to the blades too.
Clipper oil – Always use proper clipper oil and not the “3 in 1” type of oil. Clipper oil has been especially formulated for this type of use and has a very light density, which will enable sufficient lubrication without getting too sticky causing more problems.
A second set of blades is really an essential requirement, and worth buying if possible at the time of a clipper purchase. The reason we suggest this is so that there is a completely cold set to change to ready to clip the head and sensitive areas, and also in the event that blades go blunt in the middle of a clip, which can be extremely frustrating!
If you are using clippers that are connected to a mains supply it is best to use a circuit breaker for you and your horses’ safety. NEVER dip electrical equipment into any liquids like diesel, petrol and water. This seems to have been advocated in years gone by but it is not to be recommended.
If there are any specific requirements needed for a particular machine, it is always best to speak direct to the manufacturer or an independent clipper specialist who supply and repair. They will be able to advise you on all technical aspects and capabilities of the clipper that you have or are thinking about purchasing.