How to body clip a horse
How to Clip Your Horse
Clipping a horse means shaving all or part of their coat off. It is mainly done to horses working over winter who would otherwise get too hot working in a full winter coat. The type of clip (how much of the coat is clipped off) will depend on how hard the horse will be working and how thick their winter coat gets. It will reduce the time it takes to cool the horse down and make grooming easier.
Clipping is also often part of showing. It displays neatness and improves their appearance at a horse show. This is is done in summer as well as winter.
Choosing a Clip
Belly Clip.For this clip, you remove the hair from just the underside of the neck and belly. This is common on ponies living out and only ridden on the weekends. Hardy ponies may not need to be rugged with this clip, unless the weather is very bad.
Low/High Trace Clip.Hair is clipped from the underside of the neck and belly up to where the traces would be on a driving pony. As the name suggests, high trace clips remove the coat up to a higher line than the low trace clip. The lower half of the head is also sometimes clipped. The legs are left unclipped. This clip is appropriate for horses who are turned out during the day, and perform moderate work on a regular basis.
Irish Clip.A line is draw from the poll (top of the head) to the belly to make a triangle shape, everything under this is clipped. Often half the head is also clipped. The legs are left unclipped. This is done on horses who perform light work and are turned out during the day.
Blanket Clip.This is similar to a trace clip, but the neck is fully clipped and the head is half or full clipped. The legs are left unclipped. This is good for horses that work heavily, as it removes hair where they sweat but leaves enough to keep them warm simultaneously.
Hunter Clip.All the hair is removed, except from the legs to give some protection. Some hair is sometimes left on the back in the shape of the saddle, and less often girth, to give protection from saddle rubs. Because most of the hair is removed with this clip, careful watch must be taken to make sure that the horse does not become too cold.
Full Clip.For this clip, the entire coat is clipped off. This is done on show horses who are heavily involved in competition, to give them a sleek coat that sweat can evaporate off of easily. A full clip should only be done if the horse is not turned out during the winter or at night.
Getting Your Horse Ready
Groom your horse.Dirt and debris in the horse’s coat will dull your clippers as you use them, so it is best to groom your horse well prior to clipping. When possible, give your horse a bath the night before you plan to clip to remove as much of the dirt as possible.
Mark off the areas you plan on clipping.Use chalk or masking tape to section off the areas of your horse’s coat that you intend on clipping. Make sure to use straight lines and mark off all areas before starting to remove hair.
Make sure your horse is not frightened of the sound of the clippers.The buzzing noise put out by clippers is frightening to most horses, especially those who have never been clipped before. Let the horse see the clippers, and then turn them on a few feet away from its face. Allow them to see that the source of the noise is from the clippers
Get your horse used to the feel of the vibrations.Alongside the sound, the way the vibration of the clippers feels on the horses skin might spook them. Test out their reaction by turning on the clippers, and placing the handle-end on their side. This will allow them to feel the vibrations without removing any hair.
- If your horse spooks particularly easy, place your hand on their side and the handle of the clippers on the back of your hand. The vibrations will travel through your hand and they’ll be able to feel it on their skin indirectly.
Getting Your Clippers Ready
Select two different clippers.In general, it is good advice to keep at least two pairs of clippers on hand at all times. You will need one shearing clipper to use for wide areas of clipping, and a smaller clipper for sensitive areas such as around the face.
Sharpen the blades.When cutting anything, the sharper the blade the easier the process. If you are using brand new clippers, you probably won’t have to sharpen the blades. If you are Using older clippers or blades, send to have the blades sharpened or do it yourself at home.
Clean and oil the blades.Make sure there is nothing on the blades that might slow or impede their process; dirt and mud buildup will make clipping take much longer. When the blades are clean, coat them with oil and allow the clippers to run for 10-20 seconds. This will make them run smoother as you’re clipping.
Pay attention to the temperature of your clippers.You want your clippers to be running at room temperature; if they get hot, the motor is overheating and they won’t work as well. If your clippers are ever hot, turn them off and let them cool down for several minutes before attempting to use them again.
Clipping Your Horse
Start in a non-sensitive area.Move your clippers to a part of the horse’s body that won’t be so ticklish. This is likely the neck or their sides.
Begin clipping.Turn the clippers on away from your horse’s body, and allow them to run for a few seconds. Then begin to clip by moving the clippers in the direction opposite of hair growth. Try to keep lines straight and to remove entire patches before moving onto other sections. Watch the corners of the clippers to make sure that you don’t poke your horse with them.
Continue clipping out strips.Work in long, narrow sections to get the most even results. Overlap each new strip of hair your clip off, so that you don’t have any uneven patches. When you reach a whorl in the coat, clip out the hair from different angles to remove it all.
Be careful around the mane and tail.When you clip near the mane and tail, wrap it and move it to the side so that you don’t accidentally cut any long hairs. If you need, have a friend help by holding both to the side to make it easier for you and your horse.
Clip the face last.If the clip style you choose requires you to clip your horse’s face, save it for last. This will help to keep their anxiety level low. Be sure to switch to the smaller clipper when clipping the face and other sensitive areas.
Trim any remaining hairs.If you’re not doing a full clip, there will be areas of the horse which still have hair, and some of that will be a bit long. Use a pair of cutting shears to trim down extra long hair, typically around the legs.
Clean up the hair.The hair left on the ground will need to be swept up and removed. Horsehair does not decompose quickly though, so it should not be put in a manure or compost pile. Instead, simply toss it out with your regular garbage.
Blanket your horse.Your horse won’t be used to the stark temperature change as a result of having much less hair, so they will need to be blanketed whenever they are put out. In general, if you need a thin coat, put a thin blanket on them. If you’re very cold, they’re also going to need a thick winter blanket.
QuestionHow do I clip around a horse's tail?Maija PhilipCommunity AnswerAt the top of the tail, you can cut a triangle pointing away from the tail and clip around the tail regularly, just moving the tail away from the area you are clipping.Thanks!
QuestionDuring which season should I clip my horses?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf you need to clip your horses, it would usually be done during winter so they wouldn't get overheated while working.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the best clip for over the winter? And how thick of a blanket do I need in the winter for a clipped horse?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe best clip is to leave them long and hairy! Horses regulate their own body temperatures quite well and can take the cold way better than we can. Blankest do more harm than good as they press the horse's hair flat against its body, causing it to not be able to keep itself warm. It best to go all natural!Thanks!
QuestionHow do I clip underneath my horse?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo little by little starting at the front. Don't clip close to the more sensitive parts, and make sure you stay alert in case the horse were to kick.Thanks!
||Video shows how to do a hunter clip.|
- If you are using cheaper blades you may need a spare set as they will blunt sooner.
- Start with giving only a belly clip, then a chaser or low trace, then a high trace, a blanket, hunter and then finally a full clip, stopping at a clip suitable for your horse. By doing it in stages, if your horse (or you) get too impatient or the blades too blunt etc. you can finish the clip later with your horse still looking presentable.
- Don't clip for the first time just before an important show or event. If you want your horse to look their best ask someone experienced to clip for you. Your first clip will probably be a bit messy.
- Don't clip the day before a show; do it a week before.
- If you intend to give a full or hunter clip in one sitting, which isn't recommended for your first clip, have some spare sharp blades ready in case the first set are blunted.
- The clippers heat up. Make sure you keep them cool with cooling fluid. Turn them off and allow them to cool if necessary.
- Avoid clipping too late in the year, around early or mid spring, as this will interfere with the growth of the horse's summer coat.
- Never EVER clip the face! It can be very dangerous and I have known people to lose their horses eyes!
- Some horses dislike or are afraid of being clipped; but, unless clipping is essential for the horses health or comfort, sedation is not justified.
- Beware of cutting your horse.
- Always use a circuit breaker when using electrical equipment near horses.
- Although trimmers and clippers look the same, trimmers are not powerful enough to clip a horse. You should go for a light- or medium-duty clippers, depending on how much you want to clip off. The heavy-duty ones are mainly for professionals or large yards who clip a large number of horses.
Things You'll Need
Clippers suitable for clipping horses
A sharp set of blades
A spare sharp set of blades (if clipping a large area or using cheap blades)
A spare set of clippers (optional)
A twitch (only if necessary)
Trimmers for trimming head
Razors to fix up mistakes
A reliable helper
A hay net or other distraction for the horse
Sources and Citations
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