Horse Care And Health

How to Body Clip a Horse

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"How to Body Clip a Horse"
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Line Free Body Clipping for the Backyard Horse


- Quality clippers that have interchangeable blades

- At least two size 10 blades

- Spray lubricant

- Blade cleaner

- Show Sheen

- Medium to stiff brush

One of the most blatant signs of an amateur groom in the show ring is a bad clip job. Horrendous lines and chunks do no justice for the animal's coat and is a quick way to ruin any progress in your yearlong grooming efforts.

There is no way to avoid hair growth in the wintertime for those outside, backyard horses. Unless a strict indoor stall and lighting schedule is used to "fake out" your horse's biological lock into thinking daylight is still long like the summer, chances are you will end up with a wooly mammoth as soon as daylight savings hits.

Don't let your fear of body clipping prevent you from hitting some shows during winter months. If you have adequate time to devote to blanketing and making sure your horse can stay warm after clipping his coat, a clean body clip will be your best option for showing your horse.


A dry, unkempt coat that never gets proper attention will not clip well or look good once the hair is short. Make sure to maintain a good grooming schedule to keep the hair in its best condition.


A $15 set of clippers purchased at your local drug store is not going to be adequate. At best this type of clippers are good for quick touch ups on whiskers. Invest in a good set of powerful clippers that have interchangeable blades, and then purchase a few fresh blades to swap out when the clipping gets going.

The best size blade to use a 10.This size allows enough hair to remain, but still cuts it quite close. Wider size blades exist as well if you think you need to keep more hair on your horse's body. These are harder to find at local feed stores, but should be available online. The most common size is an 8. Chestnut, Bay and Black horses benefit from blades like an 8 because it keeps more of the original color in tact.

A good, expensive set of clippers and blades are only as good as the user, or the care taken to maintain them. Invest in good blade cleaner and spray lube.


Like a surgeon scrubs in and prepares the surgical sight before cutting, you MUST properly prepare your horse's coat before clipping. The clipper blade's worst enemy is dirt. This will immediately dull any blade.

Before even starting the clipping process, make sure your chosen location is well lit, safe and can be easily cleaned of the copious amounts of hair about to be unloaded from your horse. Layout your fresh blades, brush, spray lubricant and an old rag to wipe any excess lube off the blade. Make sure your horse is well exercised, calm and happy. Nothing is more frustrating than battling a wiggly horse while trying to body clip.


As explained earlier, dirt is your blade's worst enemy. Thoroughly bathe every square inch of your horse. Focus on dirt collecting areas like the face, legs, back, croup and flank. When rinsing, there should be nothing but clear water coming off and his coat should feel light and squeaky clean to the touch. The cleaner your horse's coat, the easier your job will be. After sweat scraping any excess water, douse your horse's coat with Show Sheen. Again, focusing on the legs and back. You want the product to penetrate down to the skin. The Show Sheen creates a slick surface to help the blade run through the hair quickly and efficiently.Clipping adamp coat also prevents the frustrating mess of hair flying into your clothes and face. However, make sure not to clip while the hair is too wet.


As you start to clip, keep your blade flat against his skin, never digging in or pointing down with the end of the blade. You should go against the direction of the hair. Pay close attention to any changes in the direction of hair growth. Try to accomplish small areas at a time, rather than sporadically going around his coat. This will prevent any changes in the look of your clipping. It is also best to accomplish the job in one day. If you have to do it over the course of a few days, leave more inconspicuous areas for later finishing, such as inside legs or under the belly.


It is important to study the typical breed standard for the style of clipping before inadvertently clipping off hair that should stay. For example, certain draft-type breeds like the Friesian or Norwegian Fjord call for leaving the fetlocks long and bushy. When clipping ears, she if it is customary to leave tips, like with Arabians or shave the ear evenly, as with Quarter Horses. Leave a triangle of hair at the base of the tail.

Another consideration is whether to leave a chunk of hair as a saddle pad. For performance horses, this is a must to keep the back warm and prevent soreness. If the horse is showing in halter or showmanship, it's probably best to clip the entire back and take extra precautions when padding the horse for performance classes. Some more laid back, open type shows might be okay with leaving a saddle pad for halter classes.


While clipping, your clipper blades will most likely become hot. Be cognoscente of how hot your blade is getting. Some horses will not mind a hot blade, but most will flinch and be fidgety. The easiest way to cool down the blade is to swap it out with a new one, then move back to the original one, once it has cooled.

One of the most important things to do whilst clipping is to lube your blade periodically. Hair will build up and slow the blade down. It is also important to brush out the hair that builds up on and under the blade with a stiff brush. Also use this brush to remove any hair that has been clipped and remains on the horse.


After the buzzing in your hands has subsided, it is time to do your post clipping care. Warm up a bucket of evenly mixed parts of water and oil; baby oil or bath oil works well. Use a sponge and soak the entire coat, wiping with the direction of the hair. If time permits, let your horse dry before putting him away. Clipping strips excess oil off of the hair, so try and repeat this step after rinsing or bathing your horse. Also keep in mind that regular grooming is still important, even though the hair is short. Keeping your grooming up will help the hair grow back in good condition.

The long time spent running a blade repeatedly over your horse's skin likely made him sore and touchy. Allow a few days for your horse to take it easy if possible. His body will be tender.

Congratulate yourself on a job well done and have fun showing your fancy, sleek horse!

More about this author: Claire Pelton

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