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The Beginners Guide to Clipping

Updated: Oct 6, 2023

Top Tips for first time clipping

Clipping your horse for the first time can be a daunting and stressful time. To reduce nerves, its worth taking everything a little slower. First time round it is always good to get someone to show you what to do and allow yourself more time to see how clippers run and operate.

In preparation for your first clip, make sure you have all the essentials your require to make this a pleasant experience for both you and your horse. Be sure you are equipped with the following: Clipit Suit, Clipit Goggle & Visor, a pair of heavy duty horse clippers, a set of horse trimmers, blade oil and cleaner, extension lead, circuit breaker and a brush and rug to keep him warm.

Using the clippers There are two ways to use clippers: trimming and clipping. Trimming refers to clipping with the hair, gliding the blades over the surface of the hair with gentle, even pressure and clipping off only the hair that sticks up into the blade. Clipping is running the clipper backwards, with the blades going against the hair. This shortens the hair to a uniform length, which is determined by the type of blade used. Clipping is used in body clipping and when a close uniform cut is desired all over the area clipped.

How to hold a set of clippers

When clipping, hold the clipper with your hand just behind the bulge where the blades attach. The lower blade should glide easily over the skin with firm pressure, but you should not dig the edge of the blade into the skin or it will create welts. Keep the clippers moving directly against the direction of hair growth.

How to clip

Make long, slow strokes, keeping the lower blade evenly against the skin. Each stroke should overlap the last by 1/2" or so. When clipping over rounded surfaces, you will have to keep rotating the clippers to keep the blades flat against the skin and cut the hair evenly. On concave surfaces or loose skin such as the throat of the flank, you may have to stretch the skin flat with your other hand in order to have a smooth surface to clip.

In clipping, the undercoat is exposed, which often makes the clipped area appear a lighter colour than the surface hair. Chestnut horses appear light palomino when clipped and bays are sometimes mouse-coloured. Greys, roans show the least visible difference between the clipped and unclipped coat colour, so they are the best to learn to clip on - your mistakes won't show as much!

Now to the clip

When you start to clip, begin on a less sensitive area like the shoulder. Turn the clippers on away from the horse and slowly place them on the shoulder and move them down the shoulder several times to get your horse used to the vibration. Once he accepts you can then start to clip.

Listen to the clipper Every 8-10 minutes check your blades are not getting too hot. Blades heat up because of a lack of oil.A high-pitched, labouring noise indicates that the blades are becoming clogged with hair and debris and need cleaning and oiling. If the blades do not cut efficiently, try adjusting the tensioning on the clipper. New blades do not need too much tension. Over tightening the tension screw will cause the blades to heat up and wear down quicker.

Hot blades are uncomfortable for the horse and do not cut efficiently.

Checking your work

When clipping, stop frequently to give your horse a rest and a pat and brush the clipped hair away from the area you have been working on. This is the time to check your work and catch any mistakes that need re-clipping. Keep the horse covered except for the part you are actually working on.

After clipping, your horse's coat will show a mousy look because any remaining dandruff and scurf is now close to the surface and visible. A good groom and a hot towel treatment will quickly clean the coat right down to the skin, or if you have hot water, give him a warm bath.

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