I love Autumn, it's my favourite season. The cosy jumpers, hot chocolates, candles, and the countdown to Christmas begins! However, the horse owner side of my life always feels a bit sad. The light, warm summer evenings are over, and we get to look forward to reduced turn out, mud, and fresh horses!
This year, I have actually clipped my boy all year. He's older now and has a thick welshie coat. He definitely benefitted from it, as well as looking about 10 years younger!. All year clipping can be a tad controversial, and like all things, you have to do what works best for your horse. However, for the majority of us, Autumn generally mean the clippers will be making an appearance at some point soon!
Clipping is definitely an art and it can be safely said that I did not miss my calling as a hairdresser, and I am glad my horse can't see himself in the mirror!
It's all in the planning
"Failing to plan is planning to fail"
Before you plug in those clippers, remember, the best clip is a planned one.
Are you doing it outside? If so, check the forecast; rain and clipping do not go well. If you're lucky enough to do it inside, great, but make sure you have adequate lighting? Otherwise, you might get a surprise when you next see your horse in daylight (I'm telling you that from experience)
What are you going to wear? Lightweight waterproofs and grippy, protective shoes are the ideals. I advise against wearing lipgloss (another tip I've picked up along the way!)
Are they mains clippers? If so, do you need an extension lead? If they are battery-powered, make sure they're fully charged. A dead battery halfway through a clip is not ideal (especially when the vet has come out and sedated them... yes another tip from experience!)
Your horse needs to be clean. I personally bath them or at least hot cloth the day before a clip as mud and sweat will blunt the blades and result in an uneven cut.
Right... I think we're ready
So, you've got all the gear on, your horse is clean, it's light, dry, no lip gloss, the batteries charged ..... you're almost ready to begin!
If you're not going for a full clip, stand your horse up square, and use chalk to mark your clip lines. As you begin, make sure the strokes are even, and slightly overlap the last clip line. Long strokes are the most effective. Clip against the way the hair lays, but you can go over it in different strokes afterwards in some areas if you need to, as it will give a close cut.
Regularly check your clippers are cool, and oil when needed. Some get warmer quicker than others so make sure you get to know your clippers.
Brush off the excess hair as much as you can, and wipe over the skin with a warm cloth. There are lots of skin lotions you can add to the water to remove the dirt and loose hair. I'm personally a lover of NAF Loves Skin, as find it nice and gentle but good for getting the dirt off.
So, your horse is now looking amazing and despite your best efforts, it's highly likely you are now wearing the hair you have clipped off, and it's probably blown all over the yard! So once you have cleared up and de-haired, pour yourself a glass of wine (if you take away 1 thing from my own experience, this is it!).
Get ready to repeat the process again in a couple of months... for the one-horse owners anyway. For those with multiple horses, or perhaps you clip horses as your job, I salute you!