Clipping is not just for competition horses. If you plan to work your horse over the winter months, even if it’s just a couple of times a week, you need to think about clipping him. Horses can get hot when ridden even in colder weather, and drying off a sweaty horse with a long, thick coat isn’t easy.
If you run a yard and clip lots of horses all year round, or want to start your own clipping business, you should invest in hard-wearing, good quality clippers. But if you have one horse and only clip a few times a year, choose a budget clipper that’s reliable but won’t break the bank. You’ll need to think about your horse’s temperament. If he doesn’t like being clipped, choose clippers that are quiet with minimal vibration. If you like sharp edges, look for a set with a narrow edge – this will give a cleaner finish to your lines.
If you’re looking at second-hand clippers, have them checked by an electrician before you buy.
Top-of-the-range clippers will cost more than £300, but if you only need a lightweight trimmer rather than a set of clippers, expect to pay around £50 to £60 for trimmers.
Remember your clippers will get hot as you work, and you’ll need to turn them off every 10 minutes or so to oil the blades and stop them overheating. Hot clipper blades will burn your horse, which could put him off being clipped for a long time.Clippers have to work hard on thick or matted hair so they will get hot even more quickly – keep a close eye on their temperature. Some clippers have air vents to keep them cool, but these can become clogged with hair – check regularly to keep them clear.
What type of clippers do you need?
Light duty clippers
Designed to clip maybe one complete horse or doing part clips, these generally cope best with shorter, fine coats. These clippers are really very large trimmers with a wide blade. As a rule they’re quieter than bigger clippers so are a good option for clipping a nervous or young horse. Generally, they come with snap-on blades, which need no tensioning.
These are the most popular and are suitable for the majority of horse owners. They take conventional blades and can normally cope with all types of hair. Most come with a set of medium blades, but finer or coarser blades are available. Most are fairly easy to hold and use – some are slightly narrower in the body or are shaped and may suit users with smaller hands.
These are for more commercial use. The motors are powerful and designed for constant, heavy work. They tend to be noisy and can be heavy to hold and use, although some models are designed to be up to hard work but lighter to hold.
A relatively new concept but extremely useful for yards that don’t have mains power, or for clipping a nervous horse when it can be dangerous having a cable around a moving animal. Batteries can last up to three hours, which is usually enough to part clip a few horses.
These are available in mains or cordless and are for trimming small areas, such as his face, ears, fine leg hair or any other awkward places. Using a pair of trimmers is also a good introduction to clipping for young or nervous horses.