Not all horses and ponies need to be clipped. Therefore you need to ask yourself the following questions before you decide if you need to clip your horse.
- Does my horse work hard enough?
- Can I stable my horse during the winter?
- Can I afford the costs associated with stabling?
- Can I afford to purchase rugs?
- Am I experienced enough to clip?
- Should I get someone else to do the clipping?
- How will my horse react to clipping? If he has not been clipped before or if he has had a bad experience you may have do some training with him before he will be happy enough to allow himself to be clipped.
Horses are clipped to enable them to work comfortably and to maintain health. A full winter coat can cause a horse to sweat heavily and loose condition. Horses that sweat into a full winter coat can take a long time to dry off and can get chilled. It is also easier to keep the horse clean.
The first clip is usually done during the autumn when the horse’s winter coat has come in. The horse will then need to be regularly re-clipped usually up to the end of January. Some horses that are in hard work are clipped all year round. Horses that fail to shed their winter coat are also clipped in the summer months. If your horse suffers from this condition it should be brought to the attention of your vet.
There are many clip designs and you can adapt and combine designs. It is best to only remove as much hair as required.
Here is information on various clips:
Bib Clip: A narrow strip of hair is removed from the underside of the neck to the chest between the front legs.
Dealer Clip: The hair is removed from the underside of the neck, the chest and belly and no hair is removed from the quarters as it finishes at the flank. The head can be half clipped, fully clipped or not clipped at all.
Trace clip: This clip removes hair from the underside of the neck, the belly and the quarters in a straight line. The head can be half clipped, fully clipped or not clipped at all.
Blanket clip: The neck and flanks are clipped and this leaves an area of hair that looks like blanket over the back and hind-quarters. The head can be half clipped, or fully clipped.
Hunter clip: This clip leaves only a small area of hair in the saddle area. The head is usually fully clipped it can be can be half clipped.
All the above clip designs leave the leg hair remaining for warmth and protection.
Full clip: The whole of the coat is removed, including body, legs and head.
Click here to go the Master Clip's website for more information on clipping designs.
- Clip in a clean, dry, well ventilated area.
- There should be good lighting and plenty of room to move around the horse.
- The flooring should be non slip and easy to sweep away the clipped hair.
- If you use electric clipper use a circuit breaker.
- Place all electric leads where they are not get trodden on.
- If using electric clippers wear rubber soled boots.
- Wear protective clothing a hard hat and protective footwear.
- Wear overalls.
- Tie back your hair.
- Have an experienced helper to handle the horse.
- Read the manufacturer's instruction book before you start to clip.
- Become familiar with how the clippers work.
- Check that your clippers are in good working order.
- Check leads and extension cables are in good working order.
- Have your clippers serviced and blades re-sharpened.
- Oil the blades and moving parts regularly.
- Remove hair from under the blades and the filters during use.
- Store your clippers in a dry place.
- Clear the area of all objects that you and your horse could stumble over.
- Choose a still dry and mild day and a quiet time on the yard.
- Set aside a good amount of time as clipping can be a lengthy process.
- Use a fully adjustable head collar or bridle to avoid losing control of the horse.
- Prepare your horse by a good groom – he must be clean and dry.
- Check for injuries and scabs that the clipper could nick.
- Be prepared to give the horse a break from clipping.
- Don’t let the clipper blades become hot.
Some things to consider before you start: Clipping is an unnatural experience for a horse and horses can react unpredictably. Therefore you need to experienced at handling horses and so does your helper. If your horse is upset by clipping he can become very dangerous. You can decide to take time to re-educate him, this can take a long time, lots of patience and you may need professional advice. Or you can try using a twitch or have your vet sedate him. If you select sedation you will need a very experienced person to clip who can work quickly.
It is worth introducing your horse to clippers carefully well before you start to clip. Training your horse to be confident and relaxed about being clipped can take you time over a number of weeks / months but in the long run will make your horse easier to clip. Let your horse inspect the clippers while they are switched off and judge his reaction. Is he happy for you to place them on his body while they are switched off? You need to get to the stage that he is happy to have them rubbed over his body while switched off before moving on to the next stage. Once he is confident and happy with this switch the clippers on and let him become familiar with hearing the clippers running. Check your horse's reaction to the noise and again wait until he is confident and happy with this before moving on to the next stage. Then you can get him used to the feel of the clippers and the vibration by putting your hand on his shoulder and the clippers onto the back of your hand. Wait until he is confident and happy with this before moving on to the next stage. The next step is to run the switched on clippers over his body without cutting any hair. If he is happy with this you and your horse are ready to clip.
A guide to the equipment you will need:
- Chalk, saddle soap or a permanent marker to mark out the clip design
- A piece of weighted string to help measure the clip level is even on both sides
- Sharp blades
- A circuit breaker
- Clipper lubricant
- Stiff small brush to clean clippers
- An adjustable head collar / bridle
- A tail bandage to keep the tail hairs out the way
- Plaiting bands to keep the mane out the way
- A handler for the horse
- Protective clothing
- A stable rug
- A body brush to off any loose hair
- A warm dampened towel to wipe the clipped areas over after clipping
A clipped horse is more susceptible to rubs from the girth, the reins, rugs etc…keep an eye on your horse and try to prevent rubbing by using girth sleeves, rug bibs etc.
Ask the Expert
If you are looking for professional, quality clippers at a great price then check out Master Clip's range of clippers. The National Horse and Pony Network is has conducting a tried and tested on Master Clip's clippers. Our glowing testimonial is below. Master Clip also provide FREE on-line advice on clipping, below are some useful links. To check out Master Clips range of very competively priced clippers please visit www.masterclip.co.uk
Click here for more information on pre clip preparation from Master Clip.
Click here for information from Master Clip on where to start clipping your horse.
Click here for information from Master Clip on what clippers to use.
Click here for advice from Master Clip on clipping your horse.
There is an excellent in-expensive Clipping Guide that will guide you through the techniques for clipping. It is Allen Photographioc Guides - Clipping by Carolyn and John Henderson. ISBN 0.85131.660.3 Published by J.A. Allen & Comapny.
Tried and Tested - Masterclip Rambo Heavy Duty Clippers
The test for these clippers was to do a full clip on a very hairy cob with a very thick winter coat. A great test for any clippers, as previous clipping sessions on this horse has been hard on the clippers (even considerably more expensive clippers have struggled). We used the tried and tested clipping session to teach someone to clip who has never clipped before. So a double test. So I can report on how they perform as a clipper from the perspective from both an experienced and novice point of view. The Rambo clippers made quick work of the heavy thick coat, gliding through the hair with ease. The clippers are easy to hold and even though they are heavy duty clippers that pack out a cutting speed of 2500rpm they have little vibration while clipping. This helps when getting even pressure in the clip, and this in turn helps to get an even finish. The horse we clipped is well behaved and we clipped out a half face with these clippers. Because these clippers are nicely balanced and easy to hold achieving good lines was easy. The Rambo clippers out performed other clippers on this horse as the blades didn’t over heat and gave a quality finished clip. The person learning to clip also found the clippers easy to use, and she was delighted to discover clipping isn’t difficult. So if you are looking for a great bargain clipper then these will be hard to find a better deal on. For £149.99 you get the Rambo heavy duty 200w clipper, two sets of medium cut blades, clipper oil and a cleaning brush all in a strong study carry case. This great price includes VAT and delivery. Consider if you pay someone to clip your horse these clippers would pay for themselves in no time at all. Plus they are very useful for year round trimming of feathers, beards, hogging etc…. Masterclip offer a one year warranty on all their clippers and provide service and maintenance of their clippers. Please click here to visit Masterclip’s website.
Masterclip Showmate Cordless Trimmer
This small trimmer is great for fiddly tidying up jobs. We used it on the face, between the front legs and to tidy up delicate areas e.g. around the sheath after using the Rambo clippers for the bulk of the clipping. It is a great trimmer, easy to use and leaves a great finish. It is very quiet so is excellent not only for trimming but for use in training sessions for horses that are nervous about clipping. As it is small, compact and cordless you can use it in all the hard to reach areas without the worry of an electric cable. You can also select the length of the cut by selecting depth required. The trimmer comes with a selection of comb guards so you can blend hair. We found that having the two rechargeable batteries with the charger great as while using the one battery we plugged in the other on charge. This trimmer also comes in a sturdy carry case. Competitively priced at £49.99 this includes VAT and delivery. Please click here to visit Masterclip’s website.
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