Clipping – so many choices, so little time, so much hair, oh boy!

finn_02There may be people who enjoy clipping, but I am not numbered among them. C’mon – it is nitpicking, your arms get tired, within the first minute you are sweaty and covered with itchy hair that goes down your shirt and sticks to your sweat, and it’s so hard to get it right. This is fun? Sounds like dressage. No wait, we were talking about clipping.

There is a certain satisfaction to transforming your formerly hairy, shaggy beast into something relatively sleek. I say relatively because I usually end up with some track marks and a few little missed spots. Yes, the perfectionists among us are shuddering, but when I want a perfect job, I hire someone to do because I just can’t. For basic clipping when I’m not going to a big championship show, I save myself lots of money and do the dirty deed myself.

Choices! We have choices in clipping. Whole horse, of course, which looks gorgeous and sleek but requires blanketing and takes a long time to do. Head, legs, the whole thing.  At our barn, we pay extra for blanketing, so I don’t body clip until the winter show season starts. Meanwhile, though, if I don’t take some hair off my ponies they are drenched with sweat 10 minutes into their exercise and take forever to dry. Not going to work! Here’s where the Trace Clip is a good choice. You remove the hair from the lower half of the horse, leaving the top half covered. Most horses, in a reasonably mild climate, do not require additional blanketing even if it rains or gets chilly, since their top hair keeps them warm. Of course, those of you in really chilly climates may beg to disagree and I’m sure if you clip a horse and it’s 0 degrees, yeah, it needs some kind of blanket. Here in California a Trace Clipped horse can go all winter with no blanket, although I usually put a sheet on if it’s 45 degrees or lower.

Great article on body clipping, “how to”:

Illustrations of types of clips:

Finn after the somewhat disastrous Trace Clip

Finn after the somewhat disastrous Trace Clip

One last caution: be sure your clippers are up to the job – heavy duty, well maintained, blades sharp, and all the things you need ready such as Blade Lube, etc., etc. It’s an excellent idea to have a backup pair ready as well. Yesterday I got two thirds of the way through Trace Clipping my horse and the clippers just…stopped. Nothing. I have no idea why (yet). Fortunately a kind soul came by and offered me an old set of hers to finish the job. I finished sloppily (her clippers were not working quite right either, although they sort of functioned) and God knows what I’ll find when I take off his sheet today and look at it in the cold light of day, but at least the basic job is done. I can clean it up later. Lesson learned: have back up clippers ready at hand for any job bigger than small trimming.

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