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How to clip a horse – Tame that mane with ease

How to clip a horse
(Image credit: Getty)

Learning how to clip a horse is well worth it, as is owning a pair of the best horse clippers. Many people will clip their horses in the winter months of the year as it naturally grows longer. Clipping off some or all of your horse’s winter coat will help prevent your horse from getting too warm and sweating profusely while exercising. However, the process isn’t always very straightforward when learning how to clip a horse in the first place. So to help, here we bring you everything you need to know about how to clip a horse.

Before starting a clip

You should adhere to some guidance on wearing the right clothing when clipping a horse. Firstly, wear sturdy footwear, ideally with steel toecaps, and an up-to-standard riding helmet to protect your head as best as possible, as horses can react adversely when being clipped. Wearing overalls is also a good idea in order to help prevent horse hair from getting under your clothes and making you itchy.

You should also make sure you are clipping your horse in a place with good light and safe surroundings. Outdoors obviously provides the best natural light, while indoors is best if conditions are inclement. But most of all, you need to pick a location where your horse is relaxed. 

It is paramount that when you are using clippers that plug into the mains that you use a circuit breaker and that you are acutely aware that your horse or pony doesn’t stand on the wire in case of electrocution. 

You will obviously need to check your clippers are working before you get your horse in place and check that the blades are in good order and preferably recently resharpened. Your horse should also be clean and dry to help avoid blunting the clipper blades. Make sure the tension in the clippers is correct, which varies from brand to brand. Finally, you will need to oil along the teeth of the blades and also on the sides of the heel.

Introducing the clippers to the horse

Firstly, show the horse the clippers while they are turned off. Rub the clippers against the horse’s shoulder and then take the clippers away and turn them on. Let the horse listen to the noise before you start clipping them, then, if they are happy, take the clippers gently to the horse and place against them to feel the vibration. If the horse appears relaxed you can then start clipping.

While clipping

Always remember to take as many safety precautions as possible when clipping. Here’s a quick set of best practice rules to follow when clipping your horse: 

  • Use long smooth stokes against the lie of the hair
  • Stop every 10 minutes to clean the hair from the blades and apply oil along the teeth of the blades and also on the sides at the heel
  • If the blades start to get hot, stop and set them aside to cool down, or swap to new blades. Apply a blade coolant spray if necessary. Do not put the blades in water or paraffin to cool them
  • Take your time!

When the clip is complete wipe the horse down with a warm, damp sponge to remove any loose hair, then rug up appropriately.

After clipping

There are also steps that you need to take in order to keep your clippers in the best possible condition:

  • Brush off all the loose hairs
  • Remove the tension set and the blades
  • Clean the blades with a brush and/or rag and put them away. Do not put them back on the handset while in storage
  • Clean the handset and pack away carefully
  • Store your clippers in a cool, dry place
  • Send your clippers and blades away at the end of the clipping season to be serviced and sharpened ready for the following year