By Liv Gude of Professional Equine Grooms, special contributor to Heels Down Magazine
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…and clipping season. With horses reaching peak woolly mammoth status this time of year, it’s time to break out the clippers. Whether it’s your first time doing the big shave, or you’re a seasoned pro, everyone has made these clipping mistakes. Don’t panic! You can bounce back from even the most epic fails.
Clipping Fail: You cut the hair too short. His chrome is pink!
Pro Tip: Choose your clipper blades wisely. Each clipper blade has a number (like 10 or 40) and the higher the number, the less hair that’s left on your horse. Each blade also has a number (like 2.5mm) that tells you how long the remaining hair will be.
Pro Fix: Start with a 10 clipper blade. If you need more hair removed, go a little bit higher. If it’s too late and you are all done clipping, think about sun protection for your horse (like light sheets and fly boots) and play the waiting game. It grows back!
Clipping Fail: Your horse has lines everywhere!
Pro Tip: Start with a ridiculously clean horse and wickedly sharp and clean clippers! Your horse needs a thorough grooming and a bath with shampoo before drying without rolling. Easy isn’t it? Oh, and don’t forget to top him off with a shine product once he’s dry. Make sure your clippers are new or freshly sharpened, well oiled, then follow with a spray coolant. Clean and cool often as you clip.
Pro Fix: If you are still seeing lines, overlap your lines a little bit like you are making an X. Work in short sections, about 8 inches or so. In a few days, after things grow out a tiny bit, you won’t be able to tell. Also do your best to keep even pressure against your horse – this takes practice!
Clipping Fail: Your chestnut horse looks like a dull pumpkin or your bay looks like a dull mouse!
Pro Tip: Clipped hair always looks a bit dull, as the hair shaft now has chopped off ends. You horse’s diet should have lots of essential fatty acids to help support healthy skin and natural oil production.
Pro Fix: Have a plan to condition your horse after clipping! The stinky old school method is to coat him in mayonnaise and cover with a blanket for several hours, then rinse. The new school method is to use a conditioning oil to coat the skin and hair for shine and protection. Always add plenty of elbow grease!
Clipping Fail: You accidentally chopped off some of his mane.
Pro Tip: Use hair clips to secure the mane out of the way before you clip the hair next to the mane. Work in an upward fashion with your clippers to blend the body hair into the mane.
Pro Fix: Roach his mane! Or, you can patiently wait as the mane grows back. Use rubber bands to tame and train the new growth and keep it flat next to the longer mane. If you are going to a show or clinic, braid the mane so that the chopped portion is under the braids to avoid wild short mane sticking up.