Body Clipping Your Horse


There aren’t many people who truly enjoy body
clipping a horse. The monotonous droning of the clippers combined with the
airborne swirls of hair are enough to make anyone reconsider the project. Yet a
body clipped horse is easier to groom during the winter months. Sweat
evaporates more quickly from shorter hair, so a clipped horse is less likely to
catch a chill after a brisk ride. Plus, body clipping allows show horses to maintain
their prize-winning glow. And we can’t forget the equines afflicted with
Cushing’s disease. One of the side effects is a dense coat that doesn’t shed,
making body clipping a year-round procedure.

There are plenty of reasons to body clip your horse.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the chore more pleasant. Here are 10 tips that
will help you be prepared, and then keep both you and your horse comfortable
until the last blade stroke.

  1. Wait until your horse’s winter coat has
    fully grown in before you body clip.

    Otherwise, that sleek coat may be marred
    by patches of late-blooming fuzz. Remember that it’s the shorter days of autumn
    that stimulate the growth of more hair. That’s why you start seeing shaggy
    horses at the end of daylight saving time.

  2. Choose clippers specifically labeled for body

    Then, compare brands based on strokes per minute (spm), which is how
    fast the blades move. This is important, since you can only move the clippers
    as fast as the blades will cut the hair. Make sure your blades are sharp, and
    keep a spare set of blades handy. Have your blades professionally sharpened
    after every few body-clipping jobs. Also check the power of the motor, which is
    measured in either watts or horsepower. A strong motor is less likely to
    overheat in the middle of a clipping job.

  3. Have the necessary accessories assembled.

    A small
    but sturdy mounting block or step stool will help you reach the high points of
    your horse’s body. Products like blade wash and cooling lubricants can help
    your clippers run smoothly. But your most important accessory is clipper oil. About
    every 15 minutes apply oil along the blades and put a few drops into the
    clippers where noted in the manufacturer’s instructions. If your clippers have
    an exterior filter, remove accumulated hair at this time, too.

  4. Enlist the help of a knowledgeable handler.

    if your horse typically stands patiently in the cross-ties or at the hitching
    post, you can’t predict how he’ll behave during the lengthy process of body
    clipping. Your handler should be adept at using a stud chain and a twitch
    properly and humanely if it becomes necessary.

  5. Dress for the job.

    You can minimize the amount of
    horse hair that ends up in peculiar places by wearing a long-sleeved shirt or
    jacket. Avoid fleece or other materials that hair will stick to easily. Also
    consider wearing a bandana or ball cap on your head and a pair of safety
    glasses to shield your eyes. Many professional body clippers also wear
    disposable face masks so they don’t inhale fumes, hair, scurf and dander.

  6. If the weather allows it, thoroughly bathe your
    horse with a good shampoo before clipping.

    As he dries, spritz his entire body,
    including his legs, with a coat polish. That will repel dust and also help the
    clipper blades glide over the hair. Let his coat dry completely before you
    clip. Are you clipping the next day? Then cover your horse with a daysheet
    overnight so he doesn’t greet you in the morning with manure stains.

  7. Before starting, introduce your horse to the body

    They sound much louder than the ones you use to trim his whiskers and
    fetlocks, so he may react with suspicion. Have your handler hold him while you
    stand a few feet away with the clippers running. Approach your horse in a
    matter-of-fact manner. If he tries to bolt, back away, but do not turn off the
    clippers. When your horse is no longer anxious, make contact with the clippers
    in a non-threatening area, like his shoulder or along his rib cage. Be
    persistent, and pat him enthusiastically for behaving. Check your blades
    frequently to make sure they haven’t become hot to the touch, causing an
    uncomfortable experience for your horse. If he’s used to having his whiskers
    and fetlocks trimmed, he should accept the body clippers once he understands
    the concept.

  8. Use a smaller, quieter set of clippers for areas
    where your horse is sensitive.

    Since they’re lighter in weight and easier to
    maneuver, use them for clipping your horse’s legs (including the bumpy hocks
    and knees) and face. Be sure the blade number corresponds with those on the
    body clippers, or your horse could end up with a patchwork appearance. Typically,
    No. 10 blades are used for body clipping.

  9. Always clip against the growth pattern of the hair,
    including tricky whorls and cowlicks.

    Keep even, consistent pressure on the
    clippers so that you don’t create a cobblestone pattern. Also make sure you
    hold the blades flat against the skin so you don’t end up with lines. Dirty
    blades or a dirty horse can also cause lines. Address those issues by rinsing
    with blade wash, then oiling the blades and spot cleaning your horse with a
    damp towel. Re-clip the troublesome areas in a criss-cross pattern, going back
    and forth, across the lines and uneven patches.

  10. Pay attention to your horse’s demeanor.

    If he
    begins to flinch or gets grumpy, check your equipment. Have your clippers
    gotten hot? Or has he simply gotten stressed or bored? Have your handler take
    him back to his stall or corral for a drink and a potty break. That’ll also
    give you a chance to relax for a moment before finishing the job.

When you stand back to admire your work, you might
notice some hives on your horse. These are usually caused by irritation from
the blades or oil. To soothe this temporary reaction and also banish any cut
hair that’s left behind, rinse your horse thoroughly. If it’s cold, opt for a
sponge bath using a bucket of warm water and rub him dry with a clean towel.
Throw on a cooler and keep him out of drafts until he’s dry. Then blanket him
properly according to your climate and whether he’ll be living inside or
outdoors. You’re now responsible for keeping him cozy, but in return you’ve
gotten rid of his winter woolies and transformed him from shaggy to sleek.

Liked this article? Here are others on clipping:

Body Clipping Secrets

HorseChannel’s Guide to Clipping Your Horse

Fun Horse Clipping Patterns


  1. I live where it is very cold, and I do not think body clipping would work. I can see where it would benifit Cushing horses, but just for showing??


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here