Body Clipping Tips From The Pros

We sat down with Megan Johnson, Head Groom for Team SmartPak rider Jon McCrea, to get her tips and tricks for body clipping.

What blades do you use when, and why?
“I use a T-10 blade for the horse’s body, head, and legs. If I have one with sensitive skin, then I will use a T-84 blade on the legs because they don’t cut the hair as short and I think it offers them more protection from bug bites and skin irritations. I use a 40 blade on the inside of the ears so they look nice and tidy.”

How do you take care of your blades before, during, and after clipping?
“I will put a bit of oil on the blades before clipping, during clipping I will spray some cool lube or WD 40, and when I’m finished with the blades I always clean out any excess hair with a brush and then put them back in their case with oil on them to prevent rusting.”

What types of clips do you use in your barn?
“We primarily only do a full body clip since our horses compete so often. If the body isn’t too hairy, I’ll just clip the legs (below the knee and hocks) and trim up around their ears.”

How do you decide which horses you’re going to clip, and when?
“I usually like to have horses clipped for shows because they look neat and it makes my life easier at shows because they’re faster to dry and they have a sweaty, matted coat. I don’t clip before every show, just when their coat is starting to get long.”

How do you prepare a horse for clipping?
“I always like to have a clean horse to clip so I’ll either bathe or give them a thorough grooming. Sometimes I’ll spray some ShowSheen on them so that the blades go through the hair easily.”

What’s the trickiest part of the horse to clip? Do you have any tips?
“I find the face a tricky area to clip because you’re working around the forelock, which you have to be careful not to accidentally clip a piece off of. Plus, it’s an area that a lot of horses are shy about being clipped. I tend to start with the face because the blades and clippers are the coolest and the horses usually have more patience at the start of the clipping process.”

Do you have any tips for preventing and/or eliminating lines and tracks?
“Having a clean horse is one of the best ways to prevent lines, along with making sure you’re clipping in the same direction with even passes of the clippers.”

Do you brush the horse, or put anything on his/her coat once you’re finished clipping?
“I will either bathe the horse after clipping to get all of the hair off of their body or give them a good brushing off. I don’t put anything on their coat after.”

How do you handle a horse that’s afraid of the clippers, or just doesn’t like being clipped?
“Patience is the most important thing to have with a horse that’s nervous about clipping or who just doesn’t enjoy it. Getting angry with them will just upset them further. If I have one that is trying to kick, I will put on a nose twitch but if they’re really frightened or dangerous to clip then I will sedate because it’s safer for me and less stressful for the horse. But I find that most of our horses are very good about clipping because it is something quite routine for them.”

What’s your #1 clipping tip for someone that’s new to clipping?
“My number one tip would be to watch others body clip before you try it yourself or, if there is someone willing to help you through your first clip, ask them to guide you through! And remember, at the end of the day it is just hair, and it does grow back!”

Courtesy of SmartPak