Tips for clipping your horse with Confidence

Tips for clipping your horse with Confidence

Clipping with Confidence Tips and advice to help you through a trouble-free Clipping season

Considering clipping your horse yourself this year?

So many points to consider – What clipper to use and what type of clip to choose? Do I have the confidence to clip and will my horse be easy to do? Clipping seems to bring up a multitude of questions and concerns, not only in the initial outlay of specialist equipment, but also in learning how to clip safely and confidently. If you are new to clipping or have clipped many times before, there are always a few “golden rules” to adhere to which will ensure that clipping your horse will be as safe and easy as possible.

Before you start:

1. Check that your clipper has been serviced and blades have been sharpened before using them at the beginning of a new season.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. Bandage the horse’s tail and plait over the mane to keep all the hair out of the way.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Ensure a circuit breaker is fitted to the lead or added to the plug if using a mains clipper.

8. Clip in a dry, light area with non-slip flooring.

9. Avoid distractions in the yard, ie feed and turnout times, this will help keep your horse settled and quiet during clipping.

10. Have a hay net ready to tie up once you have clipped the head. This tends to help keep a horse still whilst clipping.

11. 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.

12. If you are new to clipping, take your time. Start with a bib type clip if you are unsure about handling the clipper or if your horse is nervous.

13. Wear appropriate clothing – ie overalls (not fleece as the hair will cling!), sturdy footwear, and hard hat.

14. Applying a spray coat gloss to the body hair before clipping will help the clipper glide through the hair more easily.

15. Have a rug handy to put over the areas that have been clipped to keep the horse warm and less fidgety.

Whilst clipping:

1. Oil blades at least every 10 minutes and keep a check on how warm the blades are getting.

2. Keep a spare set of blades handy to change over to when doing the head and sensitive areas, so that they are totally cool.

3. Use proper clipper oil not WD40, cooking oil, linseed oil etc. It needs to be a light oil to enable the blades to continue to cut correctly.

4. Use a blade coolant and lubricant if blades are starting to get very warm. 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.

5. Check the cable connection and lead for cable breaks – this can happen if a horse inadvertently steps on the cable. Keep the cable over the shoulder whilst clipping which keeps it away from feet and legs.

6. 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”.

7. Use a weighted piece of string over your horse to ensure that both sides of the clip are level.

8. It’s quicker and easier to use a set of small trimmers to tidy up any difficult/sensitive areas as they are easier to hold and quieter to use.

9. Have a helper handy when clipping between front legs. By stretching the leg out in front, it will reduce the risk of nicking the horse, around the folds of skin.

10. 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 they will pull on the coat and you will end up with an upset and hard to clip horse.

11. If the machine suddenly stops, don’t panic, check if it has a re-set button. If it does, then push it back in with a matchstick or biro tip. It will then re- start if the problem is not too significant. If it pops out again, then contact your clipper specialist for further advice.

12. If you are dealing with a young or sensitive horse, don’t try to do it all in one session. Prepare and de-sensitise well ahead of when you need to clip.

13. If you have never clipped before, watch and get help and advice from an experienced person.

14. If the horse reacts violently even after de-sensitising, contact your Veterinary Surgeon for further advice on sedation options.


1. Use very warm soapy water with a dash of vinegar and sponge the horse all over to remove loose hair and excess grease. Dry thoroughly and rug up as necessary.

2. Remove blades from the machine and with a soft brush, brush off excess hair. If the clipper has an air vent, then remove, brush out well. Wash vent with soapy water and replace.

3. Oil blades and replace in protective covering.

4. Check the lead for any breaks or signs of wear.

5. Store clippers in a dry environment, not outside in a damp tack room.

28th November 2018

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