Myth Busting – Horse Clipping Edition


Clipping your horse is a lot like many other horse tasks – a lot of prep, some practice, and having the right tools. OH – and ignoring these myths about horse clipping: 


Horse clipping myth: Hot blades are normal and to be expected.


  • Clipping with hot blades seems logical – but hot blades are a sign that something is amiss!


  • The blade on your clippers is actually two pieces – the comb and the cutter. They slide back and forth to create the scissor action that chops the hair. This creates friction, and in turn, heat.


  • Other things make those blades hot – a dirty horse, dirty clippers, and not enough clipper oil. Dry clipper blades without oil generate so much friction that they become HOT. Dirt, dander, and dust from a dirty horse also clog up the sliding surfaces and create even more heat.


  • Your solution is to have a crazy clean horse, fresh blades, and stop every five minutes to oil your clippers. Really, every five minutes.



three types of blades detachable, shears, trimmers

The style of clipper doesn’t matter – keep those blades clear of hair and oily!


Horse clipping myth: Clipper wash or spray coolant is the same as clipper oil.


  • Use coolants or washes without oil, and you will trash your blades. Clipper wash is a disinfecting rinse. Clipper coolant is a spray that blows out some hair and dirt while cooling the blades. It’s absolutely true that some coolants say “lubricants” on the label, but they will not protect your blades like oil will.


  • And you can use them in combination for even better results! Stop every five minutes and use a wash and/or coolant. Please just follow it up with OIL. OIL OIL OIL. I can’t stress it enough!



clipper coolant spray on km cordless

This is coolant – wipe any excess away and follow up with oil.


Horse clipping myth: Kerosene is just fine to use as a blade wash.


  • Well, it used to be fine as a disinfecting blade wash. I remember (decades ago) dipping my clippers into a container of kerosene as I clipped. One, it’s a miracle I didn’t burn myself or the barn down, and two, that stuff stinks!


  • Today’s clipper blades are made from fancy metals, ceramics, and alloys that ruin with kerosene. If you need to wash your blades while clipping, brush them off, wipe them, and then dunk in a brand-specific blade wash.


  • And then oil them.


Horse clipping myth: Clipping ruins a hair coat


  • The only things that ruin a horse’s coat are improper nutrition, a heavy parasite burden, and skin infections.


  • Clipping a horse is giving them a haircut – it does not change the hair growth cycles or overall texture or quality.


  • The horse has two shedding cycles – spring and fall. The amount of daylight that your horse’s brain registers is the trigger for shedding – not temperature.


  • The winter coat falls out from the root in the spring, and a shorter summer coat replaces it. In the fall, the summer coat sheds out, and the winter coat replaces it.


  • AND – throughout the year, the coat will release hair and replace it. This is why, mid-summer and mid-winter, you will still have your curry comb fill with hair just as our hairbrushes collect hair.


  • As an example, when you clip a horse’s coat in the spring, you will chop off the shedding winter coat and you may chop off the incoming summer coat. It will all even out over time! The same is true for horses in the fall!


  • Many a show horse is clipped all year long. I know a few horses in the south that get body clipped every month – because the coat is always filling in, and it’s just so hot!


  • It will all even out eventually. Clipping for looks, or not clipping because of the myth of ruining a coat, prioritizes a horse’s aesthetic over actual health and comfort.



gray horse clipped with saddle pad remaining

Fresh clip!


Horse clipping myth: You don’t need a pair of trimmers or clippers if you never body clip.


  • Well, not so fast there, buck-a-roo. A pair of trimmers is a must for clipping wounds and creating bridle paths.


  • No wound can be adequately assessed, cleaned, and treated without clipping the surrounding hair. Medications are also easier to apply and more effective when not gooping through a horse’s coat.


  • And, no horse ever wants the crownpiece of their bridle creating a hump over the mane. It’s the equivalent of your hat’s brim resting tightly over your ponytail holder. OOF. Giving your horse a bridle path helps his tack fit in the kindest possible way.



trimmers body clippers and shears

Three types of clippers for horses – trimmers, regular body clippers, and shears.


Horse clipping myth: You must always clip against the direction of hair growth.


  • This is only true if you are a magician. But whorls, weird flank hairs, and small areas with lots of topography make this clipping myth near impossible.


  • I’m a huge fan of the “squish and slide” method of horse clipping. If you come to a tricky area, try and make the skin as taut as possible. Taut skin allows the best contact between the clippers and hair.


  • You may find that whorls, throat latches, and flanks need to be worked from different angles. Be a rebel.


  • Suppose you find that your clipping has left lines on your horse, time to break the rules again. Clipping X formations over any lines will blur them out. They blend away. Easy peasy.



trimming a horse's jowel area

Squish and slide and just get in there.


And don’t forget the actual “rules” about body clipping your horse:


  • Clip for his health first.


  • Clipping takes practice.


  • Use more clipper oil.


  • It grows back.



Keep practicing and doing what’s best for your horse!  For a comprehensive guide to clipping your horse, read this gem:  The Complete Guide to Clipping


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