5 Tips for Clipping Season

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Where we have 2 seasons...winter and summer. Its either (what we think) freezing cold or hotter than the Shara desert. Whats even more of a struggle when it comes to these two extremes? Helping our horses along with the transitions. 

I get a lot of questions to clip or not to clip when it comes to horses and I always say it depends on the horse and the discipline you are choosing to ride or specialize in. A lot of hunter/ jumpers clip for the clean sleek look while competing, while barrel racers clip to prevent horses from getting tot hot while working. 

When it comes to photographing clipped horses? I always say YAS! You'd be surprised how far clipped ears, muzzles, and fetlocks can go when viewing your gallery! So if you're deciding to clip and need help perfecting your clips, here are five horse clipping tips for you this winter:

1. The first step to giving your horse a perfect clip is to make sure your horse is clean.

I don’t mean just hosing your horse off and throwing him back in the stall to then roll again; I mean bubble bath, scrub, and blow dry. Really scrub your horse’s coat to get the dirt and sand out (I always love scrubbing mitts for this!). Rinse your horse really well, and get all of the water out with a scraper or squeegee, and then let them completely dry. 


2. Now that your horse is dry and prepared for clipping, must make sure your tools are ready for a 2 to 2 ½ hour clipping session. 

Start with a fresh set of clipper blades. If your horse is clean and you take care of the blades properly throughout the clipping, they should last about 4 to 6 horses. Make sure you oil your blades every 15 to 20 minutes and only use the cool lube sprays twice per session: one time when you are finished with one side of the horse, and once when you are done clipping to clean the blade and to disinfect before using on another horse. If you over-use the cool lube sprays, you will gum up the blades and they will not perform as well. Oil is the key– just like the engine in your car needs oil to stay cool, so do your clipper blades. For the ears, muzzle, and detailed work of clipping, I love using a cordless adjustable blade clipper. They are quiet, and the horses seem to like the smaller clippers for the sensitive areas, which means that I have more success with less restraint of the horse.


3. Once you’ve started clipping, you need to make sure that there are no lines. 

Go with the hair and then go back over the same area against the hair for no lines. If you have lines that just won’t go away, you either haven’t oiled your blade enough or need to replace your blade drive in your clippers.


4. Clipping can be exhausting for you and your horse. Its good to take breaks and sometimes so does your horse.

If the horse gets antsy and won’t stop moving, it usually means it has to pee, or that it is feeding time. Don’t force the horse to stand there just because it is inconvenient for you to take a break. It is better for your safety and the safety of the horse that you pay attention to their actions. If it is feeding time, don’t force them to miss their feed while everyone else eats because they will just make you mad by not listening.  If you allow the horse to have a break, they will be happier and associate you with a good clipping experience. A good clipping experience for the horse means a better clipping outcome.


5. You Finished! Congratulations! Double check over your horse to make sure you haven’t missed any areas.

Did you get the bridle path, sheath area, under the tail? Is your triangle above the tail even, did you clean out the ears?

Clipping your horse is a very unnatural thing for them to experience. If you have a horse that is nervous for clipping, work on desensitizing them to the clippers and feeling before fully committing to a full body clip. If you are still having issues consult your veterinarian to see if it has to do with their skin!


Happy grooming! 


Black Background Equine Horse Portraits Sara Shier Photography