This time of year is all about one thing: body clipping. Though it’s often an essential part of good horse management, clipping can be a daunting task. But don’t worry—come hair or high water, we’ve got you covered. Here is everything you need to know to body clip like a pro.
To Clip or Not to Clip?
That IS the question. Here are some things to consider.
- Do you work your horse in cold weather? If the answer is no, you probably don’t need to clip.
- Does your horse sweat when you work him in cold weather? If yes, clipping can decrease drying time and keep him from getting a chill.
- Are you willing to blanket your horse? Blankets are a must for body clipped horses.
- Does your horse live outside all winter? He might need his full hair coat to keep warm against the elements.
Tips for Would-Be Body Clippers
- Ideally you should bathe your horse before clipping, but if temperatures won’t allow, thorough grooming is key. Use a curry comb to loosen dirt and hair trapped in the coat, which can dull clipper blades.
- Remember to slowly introduce the clippers to your horse, especially if he’s new to the experience. Some horses may be wary of the sound and vibration clippers make. And ALWAYS keep the extension cord away from your horse’s legs.
- As you clip, adjust the direction of your clippers to follow the hair growth patterns, which will help to reduce clipper lines.
- Send your blades out for sharpening if you suspect they’re dull. Sharp blades prevent hairs from being pulled during clipping, which can irritate your horse.
Get to Know Your Blades
You’ll need to purchase or borrow a pair of body clippers and the appropriate blades before you begin. Smaller clippers meant for the face and legs just won’t cut it (see what we did there?). Generally, body clipping is done with a #10 blade, but there are several different types of blades available.
10 Wide Blade – 2.4mm or T84 Blade – 2.4mm
These two blades are ideal for body clipping because of their width. They also make it easy to touch up mistakes and lines afterward if needed. (Note: the T84 is specific to Andis brand clippers.)
#10 Blade – 1.5mm
Leaves hair shorter than T84 and 10 Wide blades, but can be used for body clipping areas where wide blades will not work, such as the head and lower legs.
#15 – 1.2mm and #30 – 0.5mm
Leaves hair shorter (and shorter still!) than a #10 blade. Generally these blades are too short to use for general body clipping, but work well for specific areas such as the muzzle and bridlepath.
A Bit More About Clipping Styles…
The entire body is clipped, including the face, legs, and belly. This clip is appropriate for horses in heavy work during the winter and who will be turned out in dry areas.
The body and face are clipped, but the legs and saddle area are left unclipped. This clip is appropriate for horses in medium to heavy work.
The body and face are clipped, but the legs and area that a quarter sheet would cover are left unclipped. This clip is appropriate for horses in medium work.
The underside of the neck, chest, belly, and halfway up the sides and hind end are clipped. This clip is appropriate for horses in light to medium work.
The underside of the neck, chest, and belly are clipped; the upper clip line sweeps diagonally from the upper jaw line to under the flank. This clip is appropriate for horses in light to medium work.
The underside of the neck, chest and belly are clipped. These clips leave the most hair on your horse and are appropriate for horses in light work.
Remember: depending on where you live, the more hair you remove from your horse, the heavier the blankets he’ll require. Horses with full body clips need to be blanketed at all times, and may require neck covers. Horses with more moderate clips may be able to get away with lighter layers depending on the climate and how much hair was removed. When riding a horse with fully clipped hind quarters, it is often a good idea to use a quarter sheet.
Finally, pay close attention to your horse’s body temperature and heat levels to make sure he’s blanketed appropriately. Happy clipping!