Noble Life

Clipping 101

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When clipping a horse, the preparation is as important as the clipping itself. Make sure you have the proper clipper size for the job and that it is in good working order. Bathe the horse beforehand and use a spray on conditioner after the final rinse to create a sleek coat and reduce static. The horse should be completely dry before attempting to clip.

Supplies you should have handy:

  • Large clipper made for the body with a #10 blade attached- the wider the blade the less swipes will be needed, new blades are best or newly sharpened ones
  • Smaller clipper with higher numbered blades, such as #15 for the head and #30 for inside the ears and around the muzzle
  • Rubbing alcohol or blade spray- use to cool the blades
  • Clipper oil- for the designated spots on the clipper and to reduce friction of the blade
  • Soft brush
  • Towel

Prepare a safe, clutter-free area for the horse to be cross-tied or held, preferably where there is no wind. Make sure the extension cord will not be in the way of the horse during clipping. Have a broom, shovel and trash can available for the loose hair clipped. You may need an assistant with treats if you are unsure how the horse will react. A twitch may also be necessary.

There are several types of patterns such as Trace Clip, Blanket Clip or Hunter Clip. Choose one and use a chalk to outline the edges, or opt for a full body clip. Start at the least sensitive area such as the horse’s shoulder. Clip against the growth of the hair using consistent pressure. To avoid lines and for an even cut, clip in overlapping rows and make sure the skin is stretched. You may want to clip the outline of the pattern first and then clip the interior. Cool the blade about every ten minutes, or change the blade to avoid burning the horse. Use the oil at the same time to keep the clipper motor running smoothly.

Since clipping may take a couple hours or more depending on the size of the horse, the thickness of the coat and the behavior, plan to take a break about halfway through to allow the horse to stretch its legs or relieve itself. Hand walking is suggested rather than being placed in a stall to avoid the horse from rolling. Sweep up the loose hair and then continue.

Once the body is finished, change to a smaller clipper with the appropriate blade for the legs, face and ears. Brush the body and wipe down with a towel. Check for any touch-ups that may be needed by holding the horse in the sunlight.

Finally, clean the clippers and blades so they are prepared for the next clipping job. Blanket the horse according to the temperature even if it is stabled inside.

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The Author:


Sharon Miner has been a professional horsewoman since 1975, teaching riding lessons at her Unicorn Stables and various summer camps for 25 years. For the following eight years, she managed barns seasonally for a Thoroughbred stud farm, a stable at a private school and international competitors in eventing, combined driving and hunter-jumper disciplines. Currently, she is a mobile pet groomer in the Tampa Bay area, an author of the Beloved Horses series, children’s dog books and teen mystery novels and a freelance writer. Her articles have been published in Dog Fancy, Horse News, Blood Horse, Trail Rider, and online at Phelpssports.com and E-How.com. She travels the country interviewing horse owners, giving clinics in horse and pet care as well as writing workshops. She loves sharing her passions of horses and dogs at equine, pet or book events.

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