It's that time of year again when you need to decide if your horse needs clipping. If you are going to have your horse in regular work throughout the winter then you are likely to need to clip off your horse's winter coat. There are several options of clip you can do so it is worth taking some time thinking about which clip will be best for both you and your horse.
Which clip to go for? Consider the following..
How much work your horse will be doing? A horse working hard several times a week is likely to need more clipped off than a horse you are taking on a light hack twice a week.
Has your horse been clipped before? If the answer is no then it is a good idea to start with a small clip such as a bib for the first time to ease him in gently and see how he behaves.
Are you able to rug your horse throughout the winter? If you clip your horse fully then you will need to rug to make up for the warm winter coat you have just taken off.
Your horse's behaviour... Remember winter means horse's end up in the stable for longer periods, some horse's find this quite exciting. If this is your horse maybe consider a trace or blanket clip and see how you go. A full clip can lead your horse to feeling a bit 'fresh'.
Each brand of clipper comes with their own instructions which you must read as these contain important information on the correct tensioning of the clipper blades. The blade tensioning is the hardest part to master when using clippers. Even if you have clipped before, you must check the correct tensioning of the clipper you are using. The tension set comprises of a screw pin, spring and nut. This attaches the blades to the clipper. You have 2 blades, a top blade with cuts the hair and a bottom blade which guides the hair to the cutting blade. If you tension these too tight, you will cause the blades to grind together and remove the sharp edge causing the blades to blunt and not cut. We suggest you tension them thumb tight, you can then tighten the tension by very small amounts until the blades smoothly cut through the hair. We will demonstrate this to you in our store however if you purchase clippers online we always recommend you get an experienced clipper to show you the correct tensioning.
The second thing which is very important is oil. This lubricates the blades and helps prevent a build up of grease. It is important to oil the blades and clipper head well at the start of the clip and then every 5 minutes during clipping.
Other things to consider are the location of the clippers air vents and filters. Make sure you do not cover these up with your hand when you hold the clipper. The air filter will pull hair in and hair will attach to it. Makes sure you frequently wipe the hair away from this to allow air to circulate through your clipper.
Clippers will heat up as you use them so try and avoid leaving the tricky head area till last as you may need to cool your clipper down before clipping around this delicate area. For a horse that gets stressed, you will find it easier to clip the neck and chest area first before they sweat as clipping wet hair is harder and can blunt your blades.
Medium are the most common used blades (A2 for Wolseley and Liveryman). These suit most coats. If you have a very hair native type then you may need to use coarse blades. The reason for this is that the coarse blades have wider gaps between the teeth preventing grease and hair build up which can blunt the blades. Fine blades are available but these clip very close so we would recommend you use medium and see how you get on.
Having invested in a set of clippers it is important to take a bit of time cleaning them before storing them for next time. After clipping remove the blades and brush away the hair. Brush the hair off the clipper and air filter as per clipper instructions. Wipe the blades with surgical spirit or an antisepetic blade spray to disinfect them, then oil the blades well and either store back on the clipper or wrap in some grease proof paper which will prevent the blades going rusty. Put the tension set back on the clipper to prevent it being lost. Clippers do have metal parts so try and store them in a dry place.