1.Ask Yourself is it Safe
Not all horses are easy to clip so before attempting to clip the legs, firstly see if the horse is safe and well-mannered to have his body and face clipped and to manoeuvre and control when doing so. Clipping the legs will entail having yourself in close to and underneath the horse’s feet and legs so it is important to ensure that you are safe to do so. If the horse is prone to kicking out, it is not advisable to attempt to clip the legs due to the risk of injury to horse and to the person clipping.
2. Ask Yourself is it Possible
If it seems that the horse is safe and mannerly to clip, check the horse’s reaction to the clippers on the legs. Place the back of the clippers on the horses shoulder and run it down the front legs and then the back legs to see what kind of reaction you get. This allows you once again to gauge the safety and possibility before you start clipping – few things will look as stupid as a horse with half clipped legs because a job had to be abandoned part way through
3. Ask Yourself what the Horse’s Situation is
When clipping legs you will remove the horse’s feathers and natural protection against the elements and against conditions such as cracked heels. The natural hair on the legs also protects the horse from thorns and briars while doing activities such as hunting. If the horse will be living out full time in wet mucky ground or hunting frequently then extra care and attention will be required if the legs are clipped.
4. Check out the legs before you clip
If the legs are quite hairy the hair can be hiding minor skin blemishes such as dry skin, scars, small nicks or sore spots. If you take the time to run your hands down the horse’s legs before clipping this will allow you to identify and work around these areas where the horse may be sensitive.
5. Remember What you are Clipping
Clipping the legs involves running sharp blades close to vital structures such as the tendons and ligaments. It should never be underestimated how important it is to be very careful when clipping this area to avoid a damaging injury to the horse. Ensure that blades used are clean and well oiled. Smaller, quiet clippers can be useful when clipping detailed areas such as around the fetlock and coronet band.
6. Take care with Chicken Skin
Horses are most prone to being cut by the clipping machine in the area around the chest, the elbow, between the front legs and the stifle. This is particularly true of horses who are older as the skin between the front legs becomes more loose. Having a handler pick up and pull each front leg forward and upwards will help you to clip the elbow and between the front legs as the skin is pulled more taut.
7. Protect your Head
As mentioned before clipping the legs will involve being very close to the horse’s legs and having your head underneath the horse. It makes sense to protect your head when doing this. This is especially true when clipping ponies as you will need to lean over and under more.
8. If the Horse gives you his Hoof, Take it
The vibration of the clippers on the horse’s leg will often naturally encourage the picking up of the hoof. The easiest way to manage this is to take the hoof firmly and hold it while you clip around the coronet band, fetlock and heel – having the hoof in hand actually makes this job easier than doing it while the hoof is flat to the ground. For horses who persistently pick up the hoof, you will often find that holding it up for a while changes their mind and they start to see the appeal of the hoof being returned to the ground.
9. Double Check your Result
Where possible, view the horses legs in natural light to check your work. It is very easy to miss a spot when clipping legs especially in dusky light. I would recommend to wear a head torch attached to your hat to give you good lighting when clipping the legs – these can easily be picked up at low prices. Once you are finished, brush off the legs and check carefully for any missing spots. Typical spots where hair will be missed will include between the back legs (especially up high), the elbow and the inside of the lower front legs.
10. After Care
Baby wipes are the ultimate post clipping grooming tool. Run folded baby wipes all along the legs to remove dry skin and loose dirt and to bring up a shine. Silicone based coat shine is great for avoiding stains on white legs as it will coat the hair. Pig Oil is good for avoiding mud rash, dry skin and cracked heels on legs in Winter. Take care that any boots used post clipping are comfirtable on clipped legs – my own horse ended up on a course of anti biotics a while ago due to the boots I put on him to protect him rubbing him raw!
11. Take care choosing blades
Its best to use blades 3mm or longer when clipping legs to allow a little more coverage and protection even if you have used 1mm fine blades on the body.
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