Stress free horse clipping!
I can say, with confidence, that it’s often more stressful for the clipper (YOU) than the clippee (YOUR HORSE). Granted, some horses take some reassuring around clippers, and there are loads of things you can do to make clipping stress free for everyone!
First things first when you are clipping your horse.
Your horse needs to be desensitized to clippers. But not just clippers, sometimes it’s the cord. Hint – cordless varieties are super easy to use and remove the OMG IT’S A HORSE EATING SNAKE factor. Some tips for making clippers friendly and not deadly:
- Start small. And start the desensitization process long before you might actually need to use clippers.
- Introduce the clipper as just something that’s in your grooming box. Keep it turned off, rub it around on your horse.
- Praise often. Then praise some more. Then praise some more.
Some horses are afraid of cords. Perhaps a cordless model?
- Then turn it on well away from your horse. This might happen days or weeks after you first show your horse the clippers and rub them on your horse.
- Do the massive praising thing again.
- At this point, lather, rinse and repeat as necessary until your horse equates the clippers as a way to get praise. This might take 5 minutes or 5 weeks.
- Then proceed to try the turned on clippers on your horse. You may need to rub them around a bit, or you can try clipping right away. Your horse’s body language should give you an idea what’s up.
- The most important thing is to have your horse trust you and clippers. It takes time and patience and praise for some horses.
Do the work to prep your horse and clippers. This gives you a FAST and easy clip session. Which means less stress for everyone.
So let’s fast forward to actual horse clipping day.
Most importantly, the key to stress-free clipping is to keep your horse comfortable. This is not only temperature but his basic needs, also. Keep these things in mind:
- Use coolers as you complete sections to keep him warm if the weather is bad.
- Keep him standing on mats or squishy ground if you can. Just a bit more comfortable than a hard surface. You may be there a while.
- Let his belly be full. Hungry horses are fidgety horses. Add a hay net for distraction if you like!
If the weather is chilly when you are clipping, consider a cooler to cover the fresh parts as you work. If you need an excuse to buy a new cooler, this is it.
- Allow pee breaks! And poop breaks! Some horses don’t like to pass manure in the cross ties, they would rather do their business and be able to step away from it.
- Keep his exercise and turn out the same if you can. Turn out is probably his favorite, so if I’m sacrificing one of the other, I’ll skip a ride. This also means he won’t be sweaty for our clipping date.
- Address any itchiness. Clip a section, curry comb that section. When you are done – a nice roll in a sandy spot is a huge relief! You know where the tickle spots are, and the stray hairs can magnify that.
And what about you?
- So this basically boils down to being prepared. Here are some tips for keeping it stress-free – for you!
- Get prepared in advance. Clippers charged? Plenty of clipper blade oil? Blades are sharp and rust-free? The best tips EVER for clipping prep are here.
- Dress accordingly. Go for a mix of hazmat suit and the latest Paris runway fashions. I find that after clipping, I like to change clothes, so have a back up set with you.
- Don’t clip hungry. This turns into hanger. This turns into your horse looking like you clipped him with a blindfold and two rusty spoons.
- Keep your beverage lid ON.
This looks like a water bottle with a lid, to prevent hairy sips of refreshment. It may, or may not, contain “adult water”.
- Stay out of the wind.
- Take your time.
If you are just learning, remember that it grows out. If you are a veteran clipper, remember that it grows out.
Have some fun while you are clipping!