For the non-horsey person, removing a horse’s winter coat might be a strange thing to do. For a horse in work, it’s easier to clip out a thick coat and put a warm rug on. This is better than letting your horse get sweaty, itchy, and cold with the risk of catching a chill.

The act of clipping is pretty simple, but it’s important to get it right so it’s stress free for the horse. This is especially important for young horses starting out in life.

Here are our top tips for clipping:

Read the instructions for your clippers carefully. Make sure you have the right clippers for the job and the right blade for what you want. Smaller clippers are better for trimming, especially around the face. If the clippers are plugged into the mains, use a circuit breaker, so if the cable gets trodden on or damaged the horse doesn’t get an electric shock. If the clippers get hot, rest until they cool down, hot clippers won’t feel nice on a horse’s body. Wipe hair off the blades and oil regularly so they remain smooth in motion.

Before you begin, have everything you need to hand and allow plenty of time. When you first turn the clippers on, gauge your horse’s reaction; look at their ears and if they move their body away. Be aware of your horse; a calm, steady approach will be beneficial in the long run. Mark out your clip of choice over the body with chalk. Depending on how much exercise your horse gets will depend on the clip you chose. Research online photos for the style of clip you wish, there are many choices and you can get creative if you’re feeling brave. 

Groom or bathe your horse before you begin as the clippers will glide easily through a clean coat. Tie the horse up in a quiet, well-lit area. If the horse is young or nervous, get a helper to hold the lead rope instead. For yourself, wear non-stick clothes, preferably coveralls. Horsehair gets everywhere and sticks to everything! This includes lip balm. No joke, clipping is a messy job.

Clip against the direction of the hair, there’s no need to press too hard. Start at the shoulder where it’s less sensitive. Don’t clip wrinkles, hold the coat tight and use long strokes. Never force the clippers through, either the blades need oiling or the horse’s coat needs brushing, there may be some hidden mud there. Make sure the horse isn’t wet or he may get an electric shock off the blades. Keep your clippers clean and store in a tidy box. Always allow for plenty of time and have patience. Rushing the job or hassling a nervous horse helps nobody. During the clipping have a rug to hand in case the horse gets cold and make sure to rug him correctly afterwards.

If you are unsure of what to do or how it will go with a particular horse, or even if you hate the job, it pays to pay an expert, preferably one who’s been recommended to you.