Produce a clip to be proud of with expert hints and tips from Vicky Goody of Clippersharp.
1. First, decide on the type of clip that your horse will need. Be realistic about your workload and expectations for the winter months and consider carefully before you clip everything off.
2. To get straight lines and curves takes practice. Decide what style of clip you’re going to do and use chalk to draw the lines of the clip on your horse’s coat. It’s much easier to follow once you have a pattern.
Where possible, use your horse’s natural body lines to get a good shape to the clip – for example, the leg muscles on the hindleg that come down diagonally from the stifle to the hock area, and the area of muscle behind the elbows.
3. To ensure the clipper blades run through your horse’s coat smoothly and efficiently, make sure he’s spotlessly clean and dry, whether by thorough grooming, or bathing him the day before if the weather allows.
4. It’s important to choose the correct grade of blade, particularly if your horse is white or light-coloured and has pink skin.
Selecting a medium-grade blade will give you a more natural finish, rather than it looking as though you’ve ‘skinned’ him.
Greys are probably the most difficult to achieve a perfect finish on – many people make the mistake of using too fine a blade, and then every line shows for the first week or so.
5. Oil across the blades before you start, and again every five to 10 minutes. This ensures that the blades perform correctly and without too much heat. It will also help to give you a smooth finish, as well as keep an edge on the blades for longer.
6. Before you start clipping, give your horse a final brush over to ensure that his coat feels clean and smooth, then apply a coat sheen spray, buffing in with a soft mitt. This will help the blades to glide through the coat effortlessly.
7. Choose a large area to start with and begin with confidence, clipping against the lie of the hair. Hold the clipper in the hand nearest to your horse and then place your other hand on him, just to the side of where you’re clipping.
Use this hand to give some tension on the skin by moving it away from the clipper, ensuring that the skin is always flat. The feel of your hand there also acts as reassurance to your horse.
8. Clip with long, even sweeps, keeping the head of the clipper parallel to the skin and apply a consistent, firm pressure.
Overlap each line by about a quarter of the width of the blade – this will help keep unsightly tram lines at bay.
Keeping an even pressure takes a bit of practice, but once you get the feel of it and know the right pressure to use, you’ll be well on your way to a perfect finish.
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