Pre-Clip Prep: Winter Horse Coat Care
As the winter months creep in, many horse owners begin to dread the task of clipping their horse ready for the season. Generally, competition horses or horses in heavier work benefit from clipping as it helps keep them comfortable throughout their work. Without clipping, sweating can cause the natural coat to become matted which may take longer to dry and cause issues with cooling your horse and keeping them comfortable. A bonus is that it is much easier to groom a horse with a short, clipped coat.
Getting Organised For Horse Coat Clipping
In order to have a stress-free clipping season, it is vital to make sure you are ready and organised for the task ahead. Before each season, it is highly recommended that you have your clippers fully serviced and blades sharpened or replaced to prevent mishaps once you start. If your horse has never seen clippers or been clipped before, it is worth taking the time to allow them to become accustomed to the sound and vibrations which they make, creating a less worrisome atmosphere during the process.
A calm horse is much easier to clip; if your horse is accustomed to the clippers, but a bit of a fidget - it may be worth exercising prior to clipping to help burn some excess energy, then offer a hay net as entertainment throughout the clip duration. Please bear in mind that your horse will need to be clean and dry in order to have a smooth clip.
Which Clip Does Your Horse Need?
Prior to clipping you need to decide which clip your horse requires. There are many traditional options out there - suited for different types and preferences - so do your research and find what works for both you and your horse. If it is your horse's first clip - it may be worth starting with a basic clip of a small area - such as a bib clip, before moving to more advanced cuts.
Bathe Your Horse Before Clipping
Ideally, your horse should be as clean as possible prior to clipping, so if you can - it is a good option to bathe your horse if possible. Dirt or matted coat grease can potentially clog the clipper blades, dulling them, causing snags and pulls, and just making the job much more tricky than it needs to be. Shampoo your horse thoroughly, rinse, then repeat again! The cleaner the better!
Make sure to thoroughly dry your horse as a damp coat can be difficult and dangerous to manage. Adding a small amount of grooming oil to your horse's coat prior to the clip can help increase lubrication and reduce any resistance on the blades. If bathing is not an option, a very thorough groom followed by either hot clothing, strapping, or both - is an adequate substitute at a push!
Horse Clipping Safely
It is vital that you have a safe area to clip. Make sure there are no trip hazards, plenty of space and good lighting. Natural lighting is best for clipping as you can see the direction and lay of the coat clearly. Bonus tip: a helper is always useful to help reassure your horse, and or hold legs if needed - so see if you can find a volunteer to have at the ready. Make sure to have all equipment laid out and ready to go, such as:
- Rugs - we would suggest not using a fleece as the hair will likely get stuck and entwined within the fabric and hard to remove.
- Clippers - serviced and clean with clipping oil, a small brush and spare battery (if applicable) all within reach.
- A circuit breaker is a safety requirement if you are using mains powered clippers in order to keep both you and your horse safe from any potentially dangerous shocks.
- A grooming brush is essential, to use as you go along - clearing any excess hair which can clog your blades during the process,
- A step: always handy to help you reach any tricky spots!
If you are planning a clip and may require a little extra help; you can always use chalk to draw your clipping lines onto the coat as a good guide. We would recommend banding the mane out of the way, to reduce the likelihood of any unintentional hair cuts! Bandaging the tail or plaiting it tidily out of reach is also a good idea.
Correct Horse Coat Clipping Gear!
Finally, make sure you are wearing all the right gear! Hair will likely get everywhere, so make sure to wear clothes that are easy to clean or even disposable overalls. We would recommend wearing a hard hat for safety - and a mask could be a good idea to prevent hair getting into your nose or mouth. When you are all suited and booted - it's all systems go! Take your time and keep an eye on the heat of the clippers. Keep the blades well-oiled and take a break if they start to get warm. It's a great idea to give a full groom or a hot cloth after clipping to leave a nice silky coat to finish.