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10 Steps To Success For Clipping Horses, Dogs, or Show Livestock!

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There are many reasons to clip or shave an animal. It can be a tedious job, but when done properly is a tremendous accomplishment akin to a person receiving a terrific hair cut. Many animals are clipped for performance reasons, such as dog or horse shows. Some are clipped for veterinary reasons, such as surgery or ultrasounds. There are also reasons of health in many animals, such as excessive hair growth and over-heating. When the daylight hours become shorter the hair usually starts growing longer and thicker. Its up to you to decide what is best for your particular animal.

Like most things, you need to plan for success. Your equipment should be clean, blades sharpened, and your animal clean. The degree of any of these variables will make the overall job easier or more difficult. For the benefit of all involved, go with what will make the clipping itself an easier process. Ideally, go learn with an experienced person before you try this alone. If you are a first-timer, just be patient and you will perfect your skills through practice.

Below are 10 steps that will help you have a successful clip:

  1. Have your blades and clippers serviced annually if you use them several times during the year. Don't know who services clippers in your area? Most hair salons will know where to have the clippers serviced as will tack & feed stores or fellow animal owners.
  2. Buy extra blades so you always have a sharp back-up pair. Know how to use them before you start, as it is important to keep the filter free from loose hair and the blades properly working.
  3. Plan ahead on what type of clip best meets your particular needs. Check out the following resources for examples of different clipping and shaving methods. Types Of Clips For Horses How To Shave Your Dog
  4. Bathe and rinse your animal well, especially around the non-flat surfaces (faces, backs of legs, etc.)
  5. When completely dry, we reccomend using a grooming spray to make the clip more enjoyable for the animal and to produce better results for you. Spray the animal with a light mist and rub into the hair coat. Do not douse the animal, use just enough to cover the hair and spread with your hand. For urgent use (such as emergency veterinary clipping), spray on your hand and rub a light amount into area to be clipped. Do not apply the spray to any open wounds.
  6. While the animal dries, set up your clippers and spray them to lubericate the blades. We reccomend using WD-40 or another clipper lube product.
  7. Start with the largest clipper blades on the largest areas of the body like the back, neck, and rump. Use the smaller blades for the more difficult areas like the face, legs, and chest.
  8. Have a brush handy to remove the cut hair from covering other areas and getting in the way.
  9. If you have been clipping and the animal becomes increasingly restless, stop and check the blades to make sure they are not too hot. As full body clips can take several hours for larger animals so consider giveing your animal a break and returning them to thier stall, crate, or pen for a drink of water and a brief rest before resuming clipping.
  10. While clipping the coat helps allievate certain issues, you also want to be mindful of the fact that coats provide natural protection for animals. If you live in a colder climate, you will want to protect your animal by using a blanket during colder weather. For warm weather, but sure to use a fly spray (for horses, we reccomend a fly reppellent so the animal does not become agitated by the biting insects after it’s hair has been shaved.

Check out the difference a good clipping program can make!

Horse clipping with Calm Coat PreClip Before Clipping

Horse clipping with Calm Coat PreClip After Clipping

The faster and smoother you can clip, the happier you and your animal will be. Good luck!

A big thanks to Anne with West Coat Morgans for contributing the above information.


Until next time,




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