|Tip: Clip horses after washing. This helps make your clipper blades last a lot longer and they do a
better job clipping when hair is clean. If you do not have time to wash, take a wet rag or a grooming
wipe and clean area you will be clipping.
Blades #10, #15, #30, #40, & #50
Cool Lube & Blade Cleaner
• Before Clipping:
o Make sure horse is untied to prevent them from becoming claustrophobic, panicked and injuring
themselves and/or you.
o If horse is not used to being clipped, you will have to spend some time getting them used to the sound
and vibration of the clippers. Make sure you plan ahead and start working with the horse a couple
weeks to a month before you plan on clipping them for a show.
o Clip horse after they have been bathed to prevent clipper blades from becoming excessively dirty. This
will lead to dull blades that pull hair instead of clipping it. If you do not have time to clip your horse, wipe
down the area you will be clipping with a wet rag or grooming wipe.
o Make sure you use the correct size blade when clipping the different body parts. Note: It makes a
difference how much hair the horse has. During winter and spring months horses will have more hair
and you need to be careful not to leave marks or distinct lines between long and short hair (blending). We
like to use a #30 blade on the face and a #10 blade on the legs during winter months. We also like to clip
with the grain of the horse’s hair rather than against.
Face: #30, #40 or #50 (surgical)
Legs: #10 or #15 blades
• #10 leaves the most hair (coarsest)
• #40 or 50 takes the most hair off (closest)
• Nose & Muzzle: Connect your #30, #40 or #50 blades to clippers. Turn clippers on and make sure your horse is
aware you are going to clip their face. Rotating between the clipper blades being upright and turned over, start clipping
whiskers around nose and muzzle. Make sure when clipping whiskers that run further up the face you turn the clipper
blades over and drag them down toward nostril. This prevents leaving lines. Trim as close as possible and clean out
hair inside of nostril.
• Jaw: Use #30 or #40 blades. Winter use #15 blades. Hold the side of halter or bridge
of nose with opposite hand to secure horse’s head and prevent slipping and causing marks
or lines. With clippers turned over, carefully run blades from just in front of throatlatch to chin.
You will have to rotate blades in areas where there are indents under the jaw. Once under the
jaw is trimmed you need to trim along each cheek bone and trim away long hairs between
cheek bones and muzzle. Again make sure the clippers are turned over for a smooth,
blended cut. Note: To make clipping the jaw easier, we like to use halters that unbuckle at the
throatlatch or a grooming halter that is built without throatlatch straps. If you do not have either
one, you will need to loosen the halter to allow room to clip or take halter off and place around
• Eyes: Use #30 or #40 blades. You can also use a finish trimmer
which is smaller in size. Horses have long guard lashes around their eyes
that need to be clipped. While gently holding the horse’s eye shut with one
hand, turn clippers over and clip guard lashes away. Be careful not to clip
when clipping a bridle path, especially when it comes to the different breeds.
So before clipping the bridle path, check with your breed association or
industry for current style or trend. A common method for measurement is to
bend the horse’s ear back towards mane and the length of the ear will be the
length of the bridle path. We show Quarter Horses and Paints and we prefer
to clip our horse’s bridle paths 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches in length or just long
enough for a halter to sit in. Starting at the poll (prominent knob between
ears) and clipping back, take all the mane hair off over the area of bridle
path. Trim down and blend any long body hair around bridle path.
• Forehead: Clip any white hairs on forehead. Refer to Booting for further
• Ears: Use #30, #40 or #50 blades and/or a finish trimmer set of clippers. The horse’s ears are almost always the most sensitive
area of the horse’s body to clip. Because of this, preparation work is crucial to the horse accepting this procedure. If you spend some time
getting the horse used to the clippers being around their ears, you will have fewer problems when you actually start clipping. If your horse
still wants to fight you when clipping their ears, a twitch is a good tool to control the situation. There are many different types of twitches
from a chain to metal; therefore, you will have to decide which one works best for you. Other options include a lip chain and/or tranquilizers.
o 2 Important Elements to Prevent Horse from Disliking Their Ears being clipped.
Hair Falling Back into Ear
Nicking or Cutting the Ear
o Folding: To prevent this from happening I like to gently fold the horse’s ear closed when clipping. This allows me to have control and
keep the vibration and sound limited. When folding the ear, I alternate between front and back until most of the hair is clipped out. To
finish the inside of the ear, I switch to a small, cordless finish trimmer and keep ear held out to side to prevent hair from falling into ear.
Once the inside of the ear is finished, re-fold the ear and trim outside. Make sure all long hairs are removed. Note: Placing cotton in horse’
s ears is an alternative that works well to limit sound and vibration levels.
• Legs: Use #10 or #15 blades.
o Cannon: To begin clipping legs, place clippers right below the knee at the back of the cannon with
the clipper blades right side up and facing the ground. Carefully, run blades down center of leg making
sure to apply even pressure (not heavy) the entire way down. At the fetlock angle off left or right and
continue clipping down towards heel. Continue making passes down back of cannon and to left and
right of center to remove long hairs and blend hair together. This means you will have to alternate
between the blades being held right side up and turned over. Note: If the horse is completely shed out,
you can start just below fetlock and clip up the leg to knee. This will remove more hair.
o Cornet Band: Use #15 blades. Place clippers right side up in your hand and place clipper blades
on hoof just below hairline. Clip upwards in short strokes (¼ inch) all the way around cornet band.
Finish by turning clippers over and blending hair from fetlock down. Sometimes you may have to blend
from knee down depending on amount of hair on leg. This helps make the lower leg look clean and
make hoof polish application easy and more symmetrical along the hair line.
o Booting: Use #15 blades. If the horse has white on lower legs you will need to “boot” them.
Booting is the process of taking all the hair down very close to skin on white part of leg. This aids in the
cleaning process before and during shows as the shaved white leg/s cleans much easier. Usually, just
the application of water and a rag takes care of spots or marks compared to making a trip back to wash
rack with a bucket of soap.
Process: Start with clippers right side up. Begin at bottom of white on leg and clip upwards
to where white stops. You want to make sure the hair is very short; however, you should not make the
leg pink in color. If this happens, you need to switch blades to a coarser cut (#15 to #10 blades). Note:
Make sure you have a practice run at home to determine which blades make the best over-all look for
your horse. Pink skin is unattractive and could lead to sunburns and/or skin problems.
1. Final comment on clipping legs: Clip legs 4 to 5 days before show. A freshly
clipped leg will be discolored as compared to rest of leg. This allows for some hair growth
and the leg will look better.
2. Clean clipper blades after each use. This helps preserve the life span and
sharpness of blades.
agent such as a gel or mousse. Rub product through entire mane and then comb mane flat. This makes the mane easier to
handle and holds the bands in place better. Begin banding up by bridle path. Take your comb or braiding comb and section out a
more hair for each section). Generally, you are looking at ½ to ¾ inch of mane per section. Take your hair clip and slip it into the
hair behind where you are about to band. This helps to keep rest of hair from becoming tangled in section you are working on.
Take you fingers and smooth down hair you are about to band. Then take you rubber band and slip it up onto mane while
holding the piece of mane down against neck with other hand. This sets the rubber band into correct place and will ultimately
help mane to lie down. To finish the process, wrap rubber band around mane using a side to side motion rather than up and
down. This means that you take to band from one side to the other without lifting hair away from neck which will cause the mane
to stick up. When band is tight and in place, grab a couple pieces underneath at the end of mane and pull apart gently. This puts
the finishing touch on the band as it tightens the band up against the crest of neck and pulls mane down.
• To Finish: Run a little more mousse or gel over horse’s mane to capture any fly-a ways. Place a slinky on horse for stalling
over night. A slinky works very well for keeping the longevity of the bands. Generally, we can leave bands in for 3 days before
having to redo them, if we use a slinky. Keep in mind you still may have to re-band one or two the morning of the show as horse’
s rub and bands break.
o Products We Prefer:
Pro-Stepps: Mane Mousse
Shapley’s Mane Mousse
French Grooming Chalk Bar
Robin Hood Slinky
Written by: Pamila Thiel & Anne Sherwood
Pictures Taken by: Pamila Thiel
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CLIPPING YOUR HORSE