It doesn’t matter which discipline you compete in, turnout is important and trimming hairy legs – unless you’re riding a traditional or native breed – is usually part of your pre-competition prep.
In the show ring in particular, trimming legs is something that producers routinely incorporate into their pre-show management.
“We trim horse’s legs regularly, so when it comes to prepping for a show, there’s nothing more to do than tidy up, says leading British producer Katie Jerram-Hunnable. “Keeping on top of trimming, clipping and manes and tails is part of our everyday routine.”
Katie recommends using small, cordless hand clippers for tidying up your horse’s legs as these are less bulky and quieter to use. However, for horses with coarser hair, it may be better to use sturdy, plug-in clippers.
Watch your head
Before you start, the most important thing to consider is your own personal safety. Make sure your horse is happy to be clipped. Wearing a riding hat when clipping out your horse’s legs is sensible, considering your head is so near his feet.
First, make sure legs and fetlocks are dry and clean, as any mud and grease will quickly clog up your clipper blades.
If you haven’t washed your horse’s legs for some time, it would be worth doing this a few days before the show to ensure that the hair is clean.
You can use a dandy brush on really muddy legs, but in most cases, a body brush is ideal for working through the hair in preparation for clipping.
Rest your clippers on your horse’s shoulder before running them in your hand down his leg. This is so that he can feel the vibration before you attempt to clip his leg and allows you to gauge his response.
If he stays calm and isn’t bothered by the noise or vibration, you can start to clip the lower leg.
Always run the clippers down the leg and in the same direction as the hair growth. This ensures you don’t make your horse’s legs bald.
At the back of the fetlock, just move the clippers gently around the bulb of the fetlock to sharpen up the leg.
At the coronet band, turn the clippers round so the blades are now facing downwards. Carefully and gently work your way around this area.
By holding the clippers in this way, you won’t be removing lumps of hair, but merely thinning out what is growing over the hoof.
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