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Body Clipping

This is a controversial subject at the very least. Iíve body clipped various horses (and dogs) many times over the years and I find that if done properly it is well worth the effort. Iíve had those horses that would look like a Shetland even while wearing the best of blankets all winter under lights. Those horses would get an annual body clipping in the Feb-Mar time frame so that riding in the Spring heat of North Carolina would not cause them to sweat unduly. 

Iíve clipped horses as late as April and not experienced any problem with their show coats for that summer even though I constantly hear that body clipping ruins their natural hair coats. For this you have to form your own opinions, I just donít think it does. It does take 2-3 wks before a body clipped horse looks natural (I've seen some that were gorgeous just after clipping).

I donít body clip a pasture horse until all danger of cold/cool weather has passed.  I body clip these horses as a convenience for me and for them.  I will body clip a stalled horse only if I have a blanket for that horse to wear.

Items to have on hand

A clean & dry horse (BOTH are essential)

Heavy duty clippers (while small clippers will work Ė they will also work you and develop more heat than tolerable for you and your horse and usually take longer to complete the job)

Spare set of new blades (you donít want to get Ĺ done and be unable to finish due to dull blades)

Blanket to use on shaved horse (essential, even in spring)

Tunic top Ė preferably a long sleeve one that buttons tightly to the neck or a shirt that you can put on backwards and still be able to move around freely (helps to keep the hair from getting under your clothing)

A cooling lubricant for the clippers

TIME

I like to start on the neck and work backwards. For the first pass, always go WITH the lay of the hair (face the blades towards the rear of the horse). Stop at the top of the legs with the large clippers and after finishing the entire body you can use smaller clippers to trim the legs. Be cautious around the mane Ė you donít want to end up roaching your horseís mane.

Make sure that you monitor the heat that is building up in the housing of the clippers. This heat transfers to the horseís skin very quickly and can burn them. Use a cooling lubricant often as well as an oiling lubricant on the blades. The cooling lubricant prevents the heat from burning up the motor of the clippers; the oiling lubricant helps keep the blades sharp.

By going with the grain you wonít be taking the hair as close to the body as you would if you went against the grain. This will give you more leeway and it will not be as hard to get the entire coat looking the same.

Dirt will dull your clipper blades faster than anything else you run against. Wet hair will also dull the blades as well as be close to impossible to clip.

I usually do the head and legs last or sometimes even the next day. I have a miniature horse that stays in the pasture and I trim his entire head several times during the winter. If I donít his halter gets too tight on him Ė when his head is trimmed his halter is very loose (he grows a massive amount of hair). I body clip a path for his harness surcingle in the winter when Iím doing any winter driving. It is the only way his harness will fit. I body clip his neck when it is time for the vet to give shots (so the vet can find his neck).

On your first clipping task, make sure you set aside several hours for completion of the task. The more you do this the faster you will become. I can usually trim an entire horse (that is cooperative) in 45 minutes.
 

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