Its all in the preparation, here is a list of must haves:
Goggles – horse hair in the eyes is PAINFUL and impossible to get out, trust me i have learnt the hard way!!!
Waterproof overalls – the hair gets everywhere, one of these suits will help minimise this. As soon as the hair comes off the horse, it reattaches to you.
Clippers that are regularly serviced and in good condition – clippers that are not fully functioning will not do a good job, you will end up with lots of lines, or they may stop working mid clip and your horse will be laughed at by his friends until you can beg, steal or borrow another pair to finish the job.
Clipper oil – use liberally and regularly on the blades, make sure to wipe excess oil off the front of the blades before putting them on the horse.
Sharp Clipper blades – i like to have two pairs,just to be safe.
Circuit breaker – we all know horses are the most accident prone animals ever and they love to stand on things – especially clipper wires.
The next set of things are not essential BUT will make it so much easier:
Step – for doing their back, nothing worse than getting on the nest day and noticing a tuft just behinds the saddle.
Flicky dandy brush – for getting off all the loose hairs, have 2 one for you and one for the horse. Do not get them mixed up.
Blade wash – for cleaning your blades before re-oiling and storing
A drink (non alcoholic) – you will need this.
So you get a far better clip on a clean horse, in an ideal world we would all have hot horse showers and a heated drying box, so we could easily bath before clipping. However what most of us get is this:
So firstly make sure the horse is dry then give them a really really good groom, get off all the mud – pay particular attention the elbows and in between the front legs. Muddy hair blunts blades very very quickly, and it also tugs on the hair which hurts the horse, and it makes the clippers work harder which in turn heats them up quicker. When all the mud is off give your horse a good hot clothing.
Grab a bucket of hot water and some non rinse shampoo, LeMieux Slosh are great for this. Using a Cactus cloth or tea towel (not too wet) dip it in the water, wring it out and scrub the horse all over with it. You do not want to soak the horse, but you do need to scrub to remove as much dirt as possible, keep dipping in the water and wringing out. You may need to change the water a few times. Again pay attention to the elbows and in between the front legs, and the top of the rump – this is usually where the hair is the thickest and dirtiest.
After hot clothing rug the horse up and wait for them to dry – or leave them overnight. Rugging the horse will also help to warm the horse up and lay the hair flat, again making it easier to clip.
When the horse is dry give them another really good groom with a body brush and you can also use some coat shine too. The cleaner the horse the better the clip.
Now you are ready to begin. I always start at the horses shoulder and move around the horse from there. Depending on what clip you are doing, and how good your horse is to clip will dictate what order you clip in. some people prefer to do the head and fiddly bits first – before the horse gets bored and restless. Others do everything else first and then the bits the horse doesn’t like last. Some horses dont mind what you do when and will happily stand for hours.
Whilst moving about the horse be aware of the wires and make sure the horse does not stand on them. Also make sure you offer the horse water on occasions, and if doing it on a cold day place a rug over ares that you are not clipping to keep the horse warm.
At intervals sweep the hair away from the horse, as when it gets on the floor it becomes very slippery, and you do not want to be falling over and spooking the horse.
After clipping give the horse a really good groom with the flicky dandy brush to remove all the loose hair, and thoroughly check them over for any missed bits – if you are inside you may want to take them out into daylight for this. Next prepare another bucket of hot water and non rinse shampoo, you can also add a few drops of baby oil to add shine to the coat and give them another through hot clothing, this will remove any remaining hair and give a good shine to the coat.
If you fancy getting creative with your clipping Ebay and Amazon do some great stencils for this. Just remember to have super sharp blades for getting the definition, and do the stencilling first – so if it goes wrong you can clip it out.
Most of all keep calm and keep checking your blades, they should never be used on the horse if they are too hot to touch, as they will burn the horse. So keep placing them on the back of your hand to test.
Another tip is to get all your jobs done first, as when you finish you will wan to get home and in the shower faster than Seabiscuit. But remember to clean and oil your clippers and blades before storing them away, and dont forget to get those blade resharpened ready for the next use.