Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Before you go there

With our show season in full swing and all the bigger shows coming up because the weather is nice, sorta, its been cloudy and a bit rainy here this week..., horses are being body clipped by the dozens. Most of them are sporting a sleek new look of being nearly bald. There are a few advantages to this, but the main concern should be the horse and their warmth. If you are considering shaving them down, have a plan. Have adequate feed, blankets and shelter for them before you even think about picking up those clippers!

Everyone might be wondering why I say that, because I live in Arizona for heaven sakes. It gets hot in the desert! But it also get cold too. We hit temperatures in the mid to high 20's at night, waterlines freeze and break and yes, horses get cold when you shave them bald this time of year. Why else would they have a thick winter coat? You know, the one you are about to clip off...

So you have a blanket on hand, maybe even a slinky, sleazy, jammies or whatever you wish to call them- a stretchy Lycra hoodie and maybe even a full body sheet. You may have a stall with walls or not, but at least try to have something with a roof to protect them from rain and or snow. Figure also to have plenty of hay for the horse to munch on and produce his own inner warmth.

But there is still much to do before you even get started... Who knew there was so much planning involved?

There are a number of different types of clippers out there, just like there are a number of clipping styles to be found. Each brand has plenty of different models and each model has plenty of different features. It can get confusing if you let it.

Of the brands of clippers out there, the four that come to mind are Andis, Laube, Oster and Wahl. Each has a number of models, for everyone from the home haircut do it yourselfer to the professional grooms handling horses, dogs, sheep and even cattle get their "do's" done before hitting the show ring. You will find an assortment of wall mount, hand held, corded, cordless, rechargeable, adjustable blades, removable blades, big, small... and a wide price range for each to match. They grace the pages of catalogs and websites as well as shelves in feed and tack stores.

For the most basic of clipping, there is no need to go all out. Nothing fancy needed, single speed are just fine, detachable blades or adjustable, many of them come with a size 10, most clippers come standard with a 12-14 foot long cord and you can reach a lot depending on where your electrical outlet is located.

I have yet to find the cheapy set (usually around $25-$50, with the plastic hair length adjustments) to hold up long outside, nor do they seem to have the Ooomph! to get through the thick strands of hair that make up manes. A lot of times they come in a plastic package and have a picture of a fluffy dog on them. That's because they seem to have no issues going through the finer strands of hair.

With all of the detachable blade clippers out there I have found the Laube blades do not fit the Osters or the Andis. Blades between the Andis and Osters are interchangeable- Yay! for the checkbook there.

If you are just clipping your horse for the sole purpose of neatening their appearance, a 10 blade and a 30 blade should do the job just fine. I use the 10's in the winter on the bridle path as they don't make it look ridiculous beyond everything and the 30's in the summer. If you have the adjustable blade clippers, this translates into the lever being all the way back- bottom blade all the way forward for the longer cut and lever all the way forward or up, bottom blade back for a shorter cut. If you are going to be clipping for shows- I recommend getting a couple pairs of 10 blades as well as a 40 blade. I will explain that in the body clipping post soon to come.

At some point your blades will go dull. They can be sharpened and used over and over for quite a while. Your clippers may also need a once over to keep them in top shape. But where do you take them? Call your local dog groomer and ask them for a referral. Where do they take their blades? Call a barber shop. Where do they take theirs? This will give you an idea of where to take your clippers and blades as well as a place to find replacements.

I recommend you take the clippers in once a year or before a heavy season of use and consider it insurance towards catching anything that may break BEFORE you get half way through the horse and leave them really looking strange. Also get the blades sharpened before you start on a horse. Dull blades pull the hair as they rake through it. Trust me. Your horse will NOT enjoy that.


  1. in the great NW...I rarely us a 30. That's like surgical close for here. lol

    The coat difference in a horse in Phoenix in the summer, and one in Eureka, CA in the summer is huge. Our summer coats are close to your winter ones. lol

    I know that when I go down south for shows in the summer, my horses are never as slick as the desert horses.

  2. I think I will just have you come up in the summer and help me out.Though summer coats here need more polishing than they do trimming.

  3. Pumpkins need pollination.
    That is all.

    Do ya have bees in AZ, CNJ?
    If not, you may need to help things along.
    Pumpkin Pronking, as it were.
    Sorry, thought it would be easier here.. I wuz at CCC's, staring adoringly at Crias again.
    and wishing I was galloping over a hill or a dale.

    If I ever own a harse again, CNJ, you are the head clipper. I sucked at clipping. It's an art, body clipping. Well, the thicker coated buggers, of course.
    I remember the days of a 20lb beast monster wahl, having to run the blades in oil, getting hair in places I didn't know one could get hair..
    Wear body armour.
    Just sayin'.

  4. If we aren't showing they are fuzzy. Come spring they may get a buzzing. Kicks the shedding process down to nothing.

    FV- I'll come up in the spring armed with clippers. Your weather would be nice about the time ours is getting disgustingly HOT!

    HP- are you not missing the days of Flagstaff? Their high was 36 the other day. Phlbbbbbt! They can keep it.

    GL- Pumpkin Pronkin- we have bees but this time of year they aren't exactly active. I have been trying to pollenate the plant the way I know how- still no pumpkins. Still blooming though. No clue about any of it.

    And I will gladly clip for you GL. I am a twisted mind and actually enjoy it! Nylon jogging suits are the key. The hair just falls off. Not ending up in places it doesn't belong. Like in your body armor. Did you know there was a fashion angle to it all?

  5. Um, if your waterlines are breaking when the temps are in the 20s, then you folks are using the wrong stuff!!!!!

    We got UP into the 20s last week, and nobody's pipes froze.... (Now it's freezing rain, which sucks mightily. Gimme snow!!)

    Clippers... never had a body-clipped horse to maintain, since I never showed or hunted in the winter, and didn't get to ride as much anyway.

    I SO admire people who can do a good body clip!! It look awesome when done right.

    The show horses around here get all bundled up in blankets & Sleazy hoods, with lights on timers shining on them all night long. Makes me giggle.

    I only ever had a pair of $35 cordless trimmers (like at the hair salon) and kept them clean and lubed, and sharpened, and they worked GREAT for bridle paths (trim w/ scissors first if you must), fetlocks & whiskers.

    "Kicks the shedding process down to nothing."
    That might be a good argument for clipping RIGHT THERE....

    Anybody here tried the ginormous horse-sized Furminator? It's like $60 so I don't want to get one, but am curious. I have the cat sized one, and it works great on small animals.

  6. (Cordless trimmers are also so great for ears... and to throw into your show box for skimming off the stuff you missed at 1 a.m. the night before :P

  7. CP- around here a lot of folks use the plastic PVC pipe for water lines. They also do not bury their lines very deep- 12-18 inches in a lot of cases, because the dirt can be soft, then clay in one spot, caliche or nearly concrete 6 inches over. Caliche can be impossible to dig through and wetting it doesn't help- the water just runs right off instead of soaking through.

    Of course in the heat of summer you don't exactly have 'cold' water coming through the pipes either and you have to let it run for a minute or two to cool it down.

    One thing I learned long ago, is to set the spigot, waterer, faucet whatever, at the end of the line to a slow drip. That usually keeps the water flowing to some degree and prevents not only the pipes freezing but at least the bursting as there is somewhere for everything to go.

    I have never even heard of the Furminator so I guess now I gotta go look them up...

    I try to body clip at least a week before the show if I am doing a horse for that reason. That leaves plenty of time to catch any missed spots, but to me they STAND OUT (just like that) in plain view and I will go back over areas I have already covered after the horse has had a quick break here and there during the process. The muzzle, eyes and bridlepath can be touched up a day or so before the show leaving one more thing off the list of concerns on the big day.

  8. When I was a kid in California, we had adobe clay to deal with. I remember a landscaper sent a dude with a pickaxe for some reason, and the pickaxe was like SSSPROOOIINNNGGGG right back up at his face. Oops.

    We had to run the sprinklers for a couple of days before they came back. This was before the big drought....

    In Indiana, we have clay, but it's mostly just really sticky dirt. Good for growing crops, but most fields are tiled because the water doesn't run off so great.

    The Furminator is nifty!

    Hey, how 'bout those stencils you can use when you clip your horse?? I remember one of the first things I saw on Fugly, that featured a pony clipped ALL OVER in this wacky pattern....

  9. I remember th eponies with the wacky clip jobs. There was a horse in the papers here some time ago who had been clipped in a zebra pattern. Bald and fuzzy stripes all over the body. It supposedly kept him warm but allowed him to cool on the warmer days. Not sure if there was any studies done on him or if it was all just a local interest type stunt.

    We have plenty of crops here too and plowed fields as well. At least as long as it isn't planned for development. Some areas the water runs off, others it doesn't at all. Crop rotations include potatoes, hay, cotton, corn and houses. Once the houses are planted the fields are done.

  10. Catty, me TOO!
    I loved that pony with the stars!

    I could make stencils...
    hmm, just realized that.


  11. Hey... I'm commenting here so you're more likely to see it. ;-)

    Starting older horses under saddle is fun. I definitely prefer the adult brain and attention span. I hope it goes well for you.

  12. SB- I will be adding your blog to the sidelines if you don't mind... Just gotta get on the real computer, not the cell phone.

    As far as starting the older horses goes, sometimes they can be a bit set in their ways already. That just poses different challenges. We're currently out of commission dues to heavy rains and lots of water, but also working on just getting her in shape before the challenges of real work begins. I don't know that she was ever taught to longe, but she picked it up really quickly.

    Going to the left was easy, the right? Well that took a little more effort on my part but once she got the idea, then it was more of focusing on not dragging me across the arena at certain spots when a buck and charge was in her plans.

    One of these days we will get there. The journey to that point will be fun though. At least that's what I'm hoping for.