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How to achieve the best quality clip

Tim Ryman |

Its officially Autumn and whilst the daytime temperature is still warm, our horses’ coats are soon coming through. Whilst the coat is still relatively short, it’s tempting to just reach for the clippers after a quick groom.

Many owners will simply clip their horses with minimal preparation to the coat but to achieve the very best quality and comfortable clip for your horse, it requires a little more time and effort.

A lot of customers ask us “Why do you clean the coat before clipping? Surely it’s better to remove as much coat as possible and then bathe the horse afterwards?” Or “I don’t see the point removing all that clean hair, just for it to go in the bin?” Whilst this makes the most sense with regards to time, the cleanliness of the coat before clipping is paramount for a few reasons. All it takes is a bit of elbow grease, a mild shampoo best suited for horses and a water brush.

  1. Bathing a horse first removes grease, dried sweat and dust from the coat that may not necessarily be easily seen on a shiny horse.  The naturals oils from your horse skin help to act as a water-repellent barrier and maintain the skin in the best condition against the elements. The downside is that the grease from the coat traps dirt particles and dust. This build-up of dirt will prevent your blades running easily and smoothly through the hair. Even a seemingly clean coat that hasn’t been bathed for a while will create lovely brown wash water when shampooed and rinsed out, even on greys!

A natural, mild shampoo is best to use with a brush to work it into the coat instead of a sponge. This will help to retain the natural pH of the skin and not interfere with the skins natural oil production.

  1. Clipping a dirty coat will dull your blades quickly. Blades are essentially two pieces of metal rubbing together at high speed. If particles of dirt are caught between the cutting surfaces, the nature of friction will cause more wear, leading to dull blades.
  2. Grease from the coat can make your blades sticky. This will generate more heat from the extra effort from the motor to move the blades and again, will add to dull your blades faster.
  3. Value for money. Professional equine grooms will insist that a horse is bathed prior to their visit. This is because clipping a dirty coat leaves a substandard quality clip and ruins their blades. Ensure you get the best quality clip from your equine groom of maximum life potential from your clipper and sharp blades by bathing your horse first. A poor quality clip, clip lines, visible teeth grooves or quick dulling of the blades is often blamed on low quality blades or even the clipper itself, but cleanliness of the coat makes a big difference. 

  1. A clean, well prepared coat allows blades to glide through without pulling or tugging at the hair meaning a much more comfortable experience for your horse. Horses can build a dislike of clipping if their previous experience has been uncomfortable. The next time you need to clip, you may find that your 100% to clip horse soon becomes problematic.  

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