Preparing Your Horse’s Coat for Clipping – By Niki Baxter

A clean, dry, dirt & grease free coat is the best canvas a clipper could ask for before clipping your horse. A clean coat makes a massive difference to the quality of a clip – there will be less lines and a much smoother finish.

A freshly clipped coat. This horse was bathed the day before clipping, and the result is a perfectly smooth clip.

Why does the coat need to be clean?

Dirt, grit, and grease can easily build up in-between the teeth of the clipper blades, and often will blunt the blades much quicker than a clean coat would.

When clipping clean horses, a professional clipper would expect to get between 5-10 full clips from one set of blades.

If clipping a dirty horse, it could take as many as 4 sets of blades to complete ONE clip.

This horse wasn’t bathed prior to clipping! The dirt and grease will clog is the blades, cause them to snag on the horse’s hair, which is uncomfortable.

When the blades become blunt, they can pull and ‘chew’ the hair. This is extremely uncomfortable for the horse – imagine having your legs waxed!

Hair that is thick with grease, or even wet/damp hair can blunt the blades quickly, and it will put excess strain on the clipper motor.

When there is excess strain on the motor, it often overheats.

• The best case scenario is the safety switch will cut out the clipper, and you will have to wait for them to cool down before resuming.

• The worst case is the motor will wear out and break, this would mean paying for a new motor (which is NOT cheap!).

What happens if my horse is not clean?

Professional clippers will always request that the horse is clean for clipping.

You will be advised to bath your horse the day before clipping – this is to allow ample drying time as a horse cannot be clipped when wet.

You are also advised to keep your horse inside the night before a clip, and to avoid turnout in sand pens or arenas.

A very gritty and greasy coat. Notice the rough lines that have been left in the clipped areas. An experienced clipper will be able to get rid of most of these, but it would have been easily avoided with a clean coat.

Many professional clippers will have a penalty charge if the horse is excessively dirty, and may even refuse to clip if the horse is too wet/gritty or muddy.

This is both for the comfort of your horse, and to look after their clipping equipment.

Do I need to bath for every type of clip?

If your horse is getting a bib, Irish, or trace/chaser/blanket then no, it’s not always necessary to bath. They will still need to be clean and thoroughly groomed through!

Horses DO require a bath if they are getting a hunter or full clip. A large amount of grease and dirt builds up along the topline and rump of the horse, and the legs are often very gritty from mud in fields.

If your horse is getting their legs clipped, then the legs must be thoroughly washed.

Horse‘s legs, particularly cob/heavily feathered legs can have a lot of grease and grit down at the roots of the hair.

What if I can’t bath my horse?

The next best option is a VERY thorough groom.

A thorough groom should take you between 30-60mins to complete – you will need to use brushes and elbow grease!

Do not use products such as dry shampoo, no-rinse shampoo, brushes dipped in oil, pig oil etc in an attempt to get the coat clean. These will build up in the coat, and clog the clippers with hair, and any product used.Do not use products such as dry shampoo, no-rinse shampoo, brushes dipped in oil, pig oil etc in an attempt to get the coat clean. These will build up in the coat, and clog the clippers with hair, and any product used.

You can hot cloth the horse after thorough grooming. Hot clothing works best on horses with a finer and/or shorter coat.

To see how to hot cloth, check out this video

What is the best way bath my horse?

For bathing, you will need:

  • warm water
  • A clarifying shampoo
  • Plastic body brush or magic brush
  • Sweat scraper

A good quality shampoo is needed to help remove any build up in the coat. Use a brush to work the shampoo into the wet coat. Using a sponge isn’t effective in removing dirt from the roots as it can’t penetrate the hair effectively like a brush can.

Take extra care to thoroughly scrub the top of the rump, and if your horse is having its legs clipped, then be very thorough with this area as well. Make sure to rinse the coat thoroughly after shampooing.

Make sure to bath the horse the day before clipping, this is to ensure ample drying time as a wet horse cannot be clipped.

It’s very easy for your clipper to tell if your horse has been cleaned!

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