Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve been on the blog, late summer and fall are BUSY seasons for photographers. I have a lot of content coming up this winter in my “off season” but for now if you know a photographer- give them a hug. Just kidding, COVID-19 still rules our lives so perhaps a socially distant high-five? Haaa..ha ha..
Anyways, today I have with me Andi of Andi’s Clipping to answer a few questions on clipping! Just like photography, clipping has a busy season as well and it’s about to hit! If you’ve ever been curious about clipping this article will cover a lot of the questions you may have! Andi also has a lot of great info on her website. From now until the end of October, you can get a free mane tidy with code SHAVETOBER if you book a clip with Andi!
1) Why do people clip their horses?
There are lots of reasons to clip horses, but the most common for my clients is to help facilitate winter riding. It might sound crazy to non-horse people, that we are taking off some or all of the horse’s hair in the winter, but it can really help out both horse and rider. Horses grow a thick and fluffy winter coat to help keep them warm in our cold weather. Unfortunately, this also means that they start sweating much faster than they will in the summer. For some riders, this isn’t too much an issue, either because they don’t ride much in the winter or their horse gets to stay inside after riding to dry off before going back outside. For others, clipping means being able to ride your horse longer and not spending hours cooling them out in the barn or arena before they can go back outside. It also helps horses who sweat excessively, are starting back to work, and/or are being worked in a heated arena. I always tell people to imagine running inside with a snowsuit on. You’d overheat pretty quickly and wouldn’t be able to run for as long or as fast as you would be able to in proper running attire. It’s the same for our horses, so taking off even just a small area of hair can help them out a lot. Of course, horses who are clipped need to be blanketed appropriately afterward according to the style of the clip and their living conditions.
For the spring and summer, I usually clip for clients who are heading out to shows. Even little tidy up clips can help present an overall clean and tidy look at the show and help you put your best “hoof” forward. Full body clips also help even out the coat from a partial winter clip. Clipping in the spring is also often done for welfare issues. It can help horses with conditions, like Cushing’s, who have a hard time shedding out their winter coat. Certain horse breeds and senior horses also end up holding on to more winter hair in the spring/summer than others and might need some help to beat the heat.
2) When are the best times to clip, and how frequently do horses need a clip?
This really depends on the individual horse and the owner’s preferences. Most often I’ll start clipping for the winter at the end of October/beginning of November depending on the weather. Usually, the horses that are done earlier will need a second clip in December or January if they tend to grow a decent coat. Some horses can last the whole season with only being clipped once and others may need multiple clips to maintain their coat. In the spring/summer, it depends on what the purpose of the clip is. If the client wants to full body clip in preparation for a show, I usually recommend clipping a few weeks before the show to give the coat time to settle and gloss up again after the clip. If the horse is being clipped for welfare reasons then we try to clip them as soon as the horse might become uncomfortable in the heat. Usually, horses don’t need to be clipped more than once in the spring/summer unless it’s a quick tidy up before a show.
3) What types of clips are there, is there benefits to each?
There are so many different clip styles and they can all be customized to suit the horse and owner’s needs. I offer small clips, like bib and Irish clips, for horses who are in light work or who don’t sweat much all the way up to full body clips. The most popular clips I get requests for in the fall/winter season are trace and hunter clips. These are great for horses in medium to heavy work as quite a bit of hair can be removed from the horse’s body while still leaving protection for the face, legs, and back. You can find a list of the clip styles I offer with a description of each here on my website. My favourite has to be the creative clips though. I love trying new things and I really appreciate the trust my clients have in me to try my hand at new designs and custom clips.
4) What type of equipment do you use during clipping?
I use a variety of different clippers while clipping. I have a pair of cordless trimmers, which are really quiet and great for introducing a new or nervous horse to the sound and feel of a clipper. I also have a heavier duty cordless clipper that I absolutely love for show tidies and full body clips in the summer. They are also great for horses that can’t handle the sound or vibration of the heavy-duty clippers. I use the heavy-duty livestock clippers for most of my winter and Cushing’s clips. They bust through thick coats like a hot knife through butter and make the experience more enjoyable for myself and the horse since I’m not pulling on their coat and spending so long clipping them.
5) What should people do to prep their horse for a professional clip?
Before you clip your horse there are a few essentials you should know. In order for clipping to be a positive experience for yourself, your horse, and the person doing the clipping you need to do some work leading up to your appointment.
•Your horse should be well handled. This means you should be able to touch and groom every part of their body with minimal fuss. This includes the legs, face, ears, tail, and belly.
•Your horse needs to be able to stand for at least 1 hour, although bigger clips can take up to 3 hours depending on the coat. This may mean you have to ask a friend to borrow their horse for company or book your clip on a day your barn is going to be quieter. Sedation is also something to consider if you are concerned your horse may be anxious.
•The horse’s coat needs to be CLEAN and DRY prior to their clip. Wet and dirty coats will slow and dull clipper blades making the clip take longer and not turn out as nicely. If possible, bathe your horse the day before their clip and cover them with a sheet or blanket to keep them clean. If you are unable to bath them make sure you spend lots of time grooming them with a curry comb in the weeks leading up to the appointment. The top of the haunches often carries the most dust and dirt so make sure to pay special attention to this area when grooming.
•Lastly, you will need a well-lit, warm, and safe place for your horse to be clipped. A heated barn with bright lighting is an ideal location, although this is not a possibility for everyone. You need to make sure you have an electrical outlet nearby or an extension that will reach to the area your horse will be standing.
6) If someone isn’t able to get a professional clip, do you have any tips for people doing it themselves?
Watch videos, ask reputable grooms/trainers for tips, look at photos of different clip styles, use chalk or pastel to mark out your lines, and most importantly BE PATIENT! That means being patient with your horse and yourself. Clipping is not an easy job if you want to make sure your horse looks nice when it’s all said and done. If it’s your first time clipping make sure you prep your horse really well and your equipment is well maintained. This will give you the best starting point possible to make it a positive experience for you and your horse. Plan to take two days to finish the clip if it’s larger than an Irish clip just in case, that way you and the horse don’t get frustrated. Try to wear clothing that the hair won’t stick to, a cheap set of rainpants and windbreaker jacket will save you from picking hair out fo your clothes for weeks. I also love helping/answering questions and I offer grooming clinics so please feel free to reach out.
7) How much does a professional clip cost?
A clip can cost anywhere from $10 to $200+ depending on the style, the horse’s behaviour, and the cleanliness of the horse’s coat.
8) Are there any horses that can’t be clipped?
I have only ever had to refuse service to one client in the past. The horse had previously had very negative experiences with clipping and required sedation to be clipped. For most cases though patience and a compassionate manner can really help out with the tricky horses. Just like in riding you need to be really aware of your own body language and the energy you are projecting on your horse. If you feel yourself getting frustrated it’s a good idea to step away for a moment and take some deep breaths to relax. Having another person to assist you in holding (and possibly distracting) the horse can also be really beneficial. A few well-timed treats can really go a long way to making clipping a more positive experience for the horse. That being said you always want to make sure you are staying safe and reprimand any dangerous behaviour appropriately. You don’t want to create any new bad habits in your horse.
9) How long have you been clipping, and how many horses do you think you’ve clipped!?
I started clipping my own lease horse back in 2014 and after practicing a bunch I began offering clipping to others in 2015. It’s crazy to think that it’s already been 5 years! I honestly could not tell you how many horses I’ve clipped. I know I did a rough count at the end of 2019 and had clipped over 85 horses that year alone. Clipping and grooming is a real passion for me and I’m incredibly grateful to all my amazing return clients and always excited to work with new clients!