Have Clippers, Will Travel

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    Casey Warren is an equine grooming expert

    Casey Warren body shaved her first horse when she was about 12-years-old. Her horse was sporting a dense winter coat and Warren wanted to dispose of all that hair. Her mother, who ran a large boarding and riding stable near Los Angeles, embraced a learn-by-doing philosophy.

    “She handed me a pair of clippers and said, ‘have at it,’” Warren recalls. “When I finished, my horse looked so nice that a lot of other people at the stable wanted their horses shaved, too. I’d discovered a way to earn some extra money.”
     
    Indeed, she had. Skip ahead a couple of decades and Warren has amassed a loyal clientele that includes some of Southern California’s most competitive Paint, American Quarter horse and Arabian show horses. Although most horses on the breed show circuit are kept under lights to help maintain a sleek coat throughout the year, some of them still get a little too wooly nonetheless, right around the time year-end championships and World Shows loom near. When that happens, Warren gets a call to return the horse’s coat to its springtime luster. It’s not unusual for her to work on 40 horses in one weekend. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s wielding industrial sized, heavy-duty clippers with every session.
     
    “Some of those will be show trims,” she explains, referring to tidying up equine facial hair and fetlocks. “But there will also be some full body shaves.”
     
    There are also less glamorous horses that need her attention. These are trail horses whose thick winter coats make afternoon rides a grooming nightmare. She also body shaves older horses afflicted with Cushing’s disease, a malady that causes an overgrowth of body hair.
      
    “Sometimes a horse will tell me, ‘no’,” she says, recounting how a horse might raise its head to avoid having its ears clipped or criss-cross its legs when she aims for the pasterns. “I just follow them with the clippers and explain to them, ‘yes, you are having this done.’ I’m just persistent. But I don’t get rough. Beating on a horse just makes them angry and then you really have a problem.”
     
    That’s not to say that Warren doesn’t encounter problems. Recently she took on the task of body shaving several young warmbloods just imported from Europe. They were furry and scared.
     
    “I don’t think they’d ever seen a set of clippers before. I got most of their bodies shaved but there just wasn’t any way I was going to get their legs done. The trainer and I both agreed that it was time to stop. So I trimmed up what I’d done into a sort of trace or hunter clip.” She laughs and adds, “That way it looked like that’s what I meant to do.”

    Discretion, it seems, is the better part of valor even when body shaving horses. With that healthy dose of common sense, Warren will be traveling the countryside, clippers in hand, for years to come.

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