Common Horse Clipping Mistakes and How to Fix Them


There is no guarantee that it will be a smashing success every time you clip your horse.  Clipping mistakes can happen, but it’s no big deal. I have a few “rules” about horse clipping that ring true.  


  • Clipping works for some horses, but not all horses.
  • Body clipping a horse takes practice.
  • Don’t worry – it grows back.
  • When in doubt, add more oil. Keep adding oil. Clipper oil is your friend. Like your best clipping friend ever.


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Common clipping errors


  • If you find yourself accidentally making one of the following “clipping mistakes,” never fear, I have some fixes.


  • Some are immediate fixes, but sometimes you have to wait for it to grow out. If you are new to clipping, do a few test swipes in an inconspicuous area to be sure you are good to go. The belly and under the saddle flap are excellent places to do your test swipe.


The clippers are pulling and tugging.


  • There are a few reasons for this to happen. Your horse is dirty, your blades are dull, your clipper motor needs repair, or you don’t have enough oil on your blades.


  • First and foremost, the clippers will pull and tug if your horse and/or your blades are dirty and dull. Clipping a dirty horse means dust and dirt muck up the blades, which also contributes to them losing sharpness sooner. It also means your horse will be tugged on. It’s not comfortable and can lead to nicks.


  • Dull blades need to be sharpened if possible. Some blades only have a few sharpenings before you need to replace them. It depends on how much blade is left to sharpen, more on that here. It’s also possible that you need to add more clipper oil. See “rule” number 4 above.


up close of clipper blade teeth


The clippers create varying depths across your horse.


  • What I mean is that it looks like you are creating sand dunes across your horse, with spots that are longer than others, and in some places may look like you have dug into your horse.


  • Some practice with the clippers can help you with this. The flat part of the blade needs to rest on your horse. You can also practice putting even pressure on your horse with the clippers. You don’t have to use all of your strength to smash the clippers on your horse, and you don’t have to clip from a distance per se. Find the in-between.


  • If your horse’s skin is not super taut, as it happens around elbows, pull the skin taut as you clip. This helps to keep things tidy.


10 wide blade on km10 clippers going through a coat


You have clipper lines.


  • Never fear, you have a few ways to remedy this. You can ignore this. A few days later, you will never know there were lines all over your horse.


  • You can also come back with your clippers and make a big X over any lines to help them disappear. You don’t always have to clip exactly against the direction of hair growth. Sometimes coming in at a slight angle is enough to make it look fantastic.


The clippers are getting too hot, too quickly.


  • Lots of causes for this clipping problem. Hot clippers mean they are working too hard. Likely, you don’t have enough oil on your clipper blades. Or your clipper motor could be starting to fade away and needs some service. Or your horse is dirty and the motor is working overtime to overcome that. Your blades might also be a bit dull, making the motor work overtime.


  • Go back to the beginning and start checking off boxes. Ridiculously clean horse? Super oily clipper blades? Not just coolant, but actual clipper oil? Chances are that this will solve your issue. If it doesn’t, take it one step further and consider servicing your clipper motors.


  • If you are mechanically inclined, you can open up your clippers and clean them out, looking for parts that need replacement. Or, send them to the manufacturer for service. You may void any warranties if you do this. 


Your clipper batteries are not lasting as long as they should.


  • Most cordless clippers have batteries that can be replaced as needed. It’s just how batteries are, think of your cell phone that now needs to be charged all the dang time, arg.


  • Some cordless clippers can also be used as corded models if their battery drains too soon. Instead of plugging the clippers into a charging stand, you can plug the cord right into your clippers. Skip the base and use them corded.


trimmers where cord attaches


Your horse’s color has changed – a little or a lot!


  • This is just part of the clipping deal; this is one instance that gray horse owners can rejoice! HA!


  • Time is on your side, as is vigorous grooming and elbow grease. And just like clipper blades, you can always add oil. Get to grooming your horse, and use a grooming oil to condition a freshly clipped horse. You have options in the grooming oil department – from bottles of oil that you can massage on, to light conditioning sprays, to mayonnaise. Yes, mayo is a thing, if you can get past the smell.


  • If the weather is still fantastic, you can also bathe your horse with a color-enhancing shampoo after clipping. These add color, shine, and conditioning.



chestnut horse in cross ties with clipped coat

You took off too much hair. And let’s hope you notice this in the super early stages of clipping!


  • This is why you do a test stripe before you go wild with clipping your horse. Start with a clipper blade that leaves much hair, like a #8.5 or #10. As the number gets higher, more hair is removed.


  • And again, now need to worry here if your horse’s hair is too short. Give it some time! And maybe an extra sheet, too.


Body clipping your horse is part art and part science. And time is on your side, and the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Don’t sweat the mistakes, they don’t matter.


Read the COMPLETE GUIDE TO CLIPPING YOUR HORSE for start to finish tips on clippers, techniques, and troubleshooting!


Grab some popcorn and watch this epic video about horse clipping- start to finish.


Horse clipping problems have a few things in common.


Bring back your horse’s color after clipping


Why your clipper blades are hot


What causes clipper lines on your horse?


Fixing clipper lines


Horse clipping tips for dense patches of hair



go shopping button for horse products


If you’re in the mood to SHOP for clipping supplies, use these links! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. **No extra charge to you!** Many, many thanks to you!


Wahl Professional Animal Bravura Lithium Clipper – this includes the 5 in 1 blade that goes from a #9 to a #40. Perfect for designs!

Wahl Professional Animal ARCO with 5 in 1 blade


The Chromado, also available in black.


Wahl’s Creativa horse trimmer is also availabe in pink.



The KM10’s are the gold standard for horse body clippers.


The Pro Ion, this is a body clipper that uses 30-15-10 blade system.

The Lister Stars – the best shear-style clippers for horses!



Blades for body clippers, the detachable style.


The 10 Wide blade for body clippers, the detachable style.

A 5 in 1 replacement blade.

Lister Star blades, fine cut.

Liste Star Blades, Medium


30-15-10’s adjustable blade.




Clipper Blade Coolant- You still need to use oil

Clipper Oil – please use this every five minutes as you are clipping. 


Blade Sanitizer


Shapley’s No.1 Light Oil – this is the “secret” oil to use before and after a clip.



Equitone 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, Gold for bringing up golden and light colors.



Shapley’s ET-R 32 oz DS 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, Red for chestnuts, sorrels, and blood bays.



Shapley’s ET-B 32 OZ DS 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, Black for blacks, bays, and other dark colors.






Thank you!






clipping mistakes and solutions