Clip Tips

...and on the eighth day God created the horse in perfect image, to romp, graze, gallop, play and make manure wherever it darn well pleases, in divine grace.

You always see those ads in the paper when someone is selling their horse: B-C-L, or bathes, clips, loads. This is good information to know prior to purchase. Clippers can be troublesome ghouls for some horses.

One of my Morgans hated the clippers. Treats didn’t matter to her at clipping time and the ridiculousness continued with rearing-up, jumping sideways, and knocking over everything within six feet of her, brushes, combs and buckets flying.

I still showed her up at Fair though, in front of Lynn Peeples, no less. She went in the ring unbathed and unclipped and still took first place for her age division, and the Reserve Grand Championship Mare for the Morgan Division that year, behind Sarah Hunter’s Kohler horse.

It just shows-to-go-ya that Lynn Peeples knows a good horse when he sees one, unclipped and covered in a layer of grime

Here are some basic clip tips for grooming and showing this summer. Blanket clips, Irish clips and trace clips will not be discussed, as they are complicated and beyond the scope of this article.

Learn from a professional horse trainer how to clip your horse in a safe manner. Clipping the animal properly for a fine-looking show appearance takes time and practice.

Always clip the easiest horses first, so you can get them done and out of the way. Save the difficult horse for last.

Anyone who tells you they’ve never slipped and left a nice gouge mark on their horses leg or face is a liar. Going lightly over the area to be clipped and then repeating the process can limit little accidents like gouge marks. Chalk on white areas can hide gouges, as can Shapley’s spray on black or bay colored areas where skin peeks through.

While using the clippers on the horse, oil and clean the blades every 15 minutes or so and feel the blades underneath. If the blades are becoming noticeably hot, turn the clippers off and let them cool down before beginning again. Oster Kool Lube Clipper Spray works great for keeping blades cool while clipping your animal.

Clipping in the earlier morning hours gives good light and cooler working conditions for you and the horse. If there is trouble, like clipping of ears, you still have the afternoon and evening to continue on. (1)

It is common courtesy to the animal to accustom him to the sounds and feel of the clippers. Show him the unit while it is turned off and let him smell it before you pass the turned-off unit over his chest and neck. Turn it on without touching him with the unit and let him smell it again.

Take your time. Give him a treat. Let him see that the unit poses no threat, on or off.

Treats especially come in handy while training to clip the ears.

Run the clipper along the horse’s cheek first.

Next, cup the horse’s ears in one hand and run the clipper, motor off, along the outside of the ear first.

Then run it along the outside edge of the ear itself.

Time and patience are needed on the young or novice horse. I’ve had horses trained so well to clip they were starting to fall asleep while doing the fetlock and hoof areas.

Scissors can be used to start off the trimming of the fetlock, and then clippers can do the rest. If just trimming the fetlock with scissors, without clipping, pay attention not to leave “scissor steps” as you trim.

Create nice, smooth lines and remember the coronet area, also.

A sedative from your local Veterinarian is most helpful for horses that are just too nervous to clip with safety, the danger they pose with over-the-edge-craziness isn’t worth it. (2)

Because the horse’s skin is thin on his face and the area is bony, use the clippers lightly here and be careful around his eyes. Never clip off a horse’s eyelashes.

Do not attempt to clip a sweaty or dirty horse as this will clog up the blades and clipper unit. Also, have the clippers serviced and the blades sharpened every year, or as needed.

I like to switch out blades and then have the whole lot sharpened at the end of the season.

My friend Sherry Wade can take apart a set of clippers, clean and oil them, and put them back together like the best of professionals. I think she even did it blindfolded- - I was impressed.

I seem to be one of those people who will take something apart and can’t put it back together again, at least not the way it’s supposed to be.

Clipping the muzzle can tickle the horse’s nose, but I think he looks so much cleaner and neater without all those whiskers.

English Thoroughbreds look fabulous with a full Hunter clip. Saddlebreds look sharp in harness with their faces and ears clipped and make-up on. Taking the time to learn and practice will always pay off well with a clean and tidy horse who is show-ready.

This article is meant as a guideline and not training or horse show advice or course of action.

Always consult a certified Veterinarian if your horse must be sedated to clip. An accredited horse trainer is always recommended for learning to clip a horse to present him in the show ring.

Leaving you and your well-groomed beauty with the immortal words of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, “Happy Trails to You.”

1-2: “The Book of Horses and Horse Care,” by Judith Draper