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It’s that dreaded time of year again when the shears are dusted off and the battle begins. Clipping doesn’t have to be a complete chore following these simple tips could really help you save time and effort.
Firstly decide if you really need to clip. A horse that has a thin coat, does little work or doesn’t seem to sweat up that much during exercise is probably ok for a haircut. It’s important to remember why we choose to clip it seems more and more people clip because everyone else is. If you can pass on the shearing you can save yourself a huge amount of time and energy. On the flip side if your horse is resembling a woolly mammoth more and more by the second then clipping is a priority for you.
Like haircuts for humans horses have different clips. Choosing the right one can save a great deal of time and benefit your horse. The clip isn’t decided on what’s in vogue it’s suited to the work load of the horse. Remember when you remove the hair you have to replace with the correct rugs to keep your horse warm!!
Leave clipping to experienced clippers. I’m not saying don’t give it a go but it really is best to have an experienced assistant. You don’t want your horse looking like you clipped it with wallpaper scissors! You can hire a person to clip on your behalf or ask someone who has clipped their horse to help you. Make sure you are using the correct equipment that is in good working order and correctly serviced. After clipping oil the blades well and re sharpen if needed. Taking care of the equipment saves costly expense in the future as well as making life easier.
So you have decided you need to clip and how much to clip. Your equipment is prepped and ready. Choose a day when you have plenty of time. A half clipped horse is no good to anyone! As you clip the clippers heat up so you need to take in consideration time for them to cool. If you are pushed for time rope in a friend with clippers and alternate so you can still be clipping whilst one pair is cooling. Make sure you oil the clippers regularly during the clip. Although it’s not impossible to clip alone having an assistant can really help and save time as well as being safer. Make sure you communicate constantly and are both wearing the correct safety equipment. Choosing someone confident with handling your horse is ideal you will need to trust them throughout the clipping process. Wear suitable clothing! I can’t stress this enough. The hair gets EVERYWHERE!!!! Overalls are good if you have them personally I use my Mums old shell suit not exactly the fashion statement of the century but the hair just drops off!! If you aren’t as lucky as me to have such a statement outfit old clothes are best. Make a list of all equipment you will need and have it all to hand. A few of the items you may find useful are listed below:
If your horse is scared or fidgety a bridle or twitch can be useful to calm them whilst you complete certain areas and give you more control. If this is in affective or you need it for more than a few minutes consider the type of clip you are doing and if you can reduce it to prevent the horse getting stressed that can be ideal. If the horse is dangerous or you don t feel confident contacting a vet to consider sedation is an option. Always speak to an experienced person before applying a twitch if you don’t have experience with this. Mark out the outline of your chosen clip with either chalk or saddle soap. This will help and guide you particularly if you aren’t as experienced at clipping. Make sure your lines are straight and you are happy before you start. If the lines aren’t straight the clip won’t be straight. A great tip is starting lower than you think this will prevent you taking too much hair off in error. Start with the fiddly parts when your horse is relaxed. This gets them out of the way whilst you are alert and energised and if the horse gets fidgety at the end this can save you ample time. This includes under the belly and around and awkward parts. Keep brushing the hair as you go to better aid your view of the remaining hair. Keep checking your horse for signs of impatience or irritation. Use your voice and other hand for reassurance. Clipping can be quite traumatic for some horses. If the horse needs a break apply a rug and allow them some space rather than forcing too much too soon. As you take off the hair your horse will get cold so remember to keep the quarters warm with a rug. If your horse gets too cold this will cause them to prance around and become unhappy. This will make continuing clipping difficult. If your horse is too cold apply rugs and allow them time to warm up before continuing.
It’s tempting whilst clipping to climb on chairs to reach the high points. Avoid using a chair with a back a step is much safer. Only go as high as you need and consider where you place your step to ensure maximum safety. Always have the help of an assistant who can hold the horse and communicate the horse’s behaviour.
After you have completed the clip allow a couple of days and check the clip over. Lines and patches will be more visible and make it easier to perfect your clip. You can put the horse away thinking you have done a sterling clip only to find the next day it looks like you clipped your horse with a knife a fork. Don’t fret this is common and easily fixed it’s always a good idea to allow two days for clipping one for the original clip and the other for perfection. Don’t forget to wash your chalk or saddle soap lines off!! Clean and oil the clippers and blades thoroughly. Send the blades to be re sharpened if needed and remember to service your clippers once a year. Ensuring your horse is rugged up accordingly can also prevent the need to clip again too soon. There is nothing worse than clipping more regular than you need. Save yourself the time and effort. Clipping doesn’t have to hard work as long as safety comes first have fun and enjoy the time with your horse.
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