This is from our occasional guest blogger Jacqui Vaughan, who is groom to 4* eventer Just Ironic, as well as having a full-time job. She has just clipped “Spida” ready for Pau, where he’s off to very soon with owner/rider Craig Nicholai.
1 Preparation is the key to a good clip. Make sure your clippers have been fully serviced and cleaned, ideally at the end of winter before you put them away. Remove the blades from the clippers have them serviced and store them oiled and wrapped in greaseproof paper for the winter. Prepare you horse by giving him a good workout to open up the pores and a thorough bath the day before you plan on clipping. A clean coat will help the clippers slide thought the coat giving a better finish.
2 Find a quiet time and place on the yard. Daylight is best for seeing what you are doing, if the weather is particularly cold clip inside in a well lit stable and use a rug to cover the parts of the horse you are not working on. A hot box or a solarium is also a great place to clip if you are lucky enough to have one.
3 Decide on a clip to suit your horse dependent on level of work they will be doing over winter. Lister have a great website which explains the benefits of each type of clip. Top tip from a pro: consider doing the first clip whilst the weather is still relatively mild and give the horse a full clip, if you plan on leaving a blanket or trace you can do this when the weather gets colder and the coat is starting to grow through. This will leave a finer coat on unclipped areas when it comes to spring and the clip needs to grow out.
3 Once you’ve decided on your style of clip mark out the lines on your horse with chalk or charcoal so you can be confident when clipping your lines in. Long confident strokes make for good lines. Tie the mane in bunches to keep it off the neck and plait and bandage the tail up to keep it out of the way.
4 Start clipping using long strokes against the direction of the hair growth, using your free hand to stretch any loose skin or folds. Use a flick brush to remove hair whilst clipping. Enlist a strong friend to extend legs so you can trim elbows and stifles. Watch out for ticklish spots!!
5 Keep an eye on your clippers, clean and oil the blades every 10 mins removing as much hair from the blades as possible and make sure the blades don’t get hot which could make the experience unpleasant for your horse.
6 Don’t forget to stop for the odd peppermint or sugar lump to thank your equine pal for behaving so beautifully
7 Use small clippers for sensitive areas and around the face and ears. They can also be used to get rid of those annoying lines that can occur by those of us less experienced in clipping by using the across the lines left on the coat – make you have them set to the right length!!!
8 Once you’re done lots of praise for the well behaved beasty and a hot rag or a wipe over with warm water and surgical spirit will be much appreciated to remove any remaining tickly hairs or clipper oil
9 Find a super snuggly warm rug so your horse doesn’t catch a chill and to prevent his clip growing out too quickly.
10 If things haven’t gone quite to plan don’t worry it will grow back and there will be plenty of practice over the coming winter. Tell me him he looks beautiful, ply him with treats and he’ll be none the wiser 😉