Common Clipping Problems & Solutions

clip line
How to clip lines

Problem: I’ve washed a horse to clip him but it isn’t dry!

Solution: Hair dryer! If despite a good cooler / sweat rug your horse is still damp, plug in your hair dryer and finish the job. If they don’t mind being clipped they rarely mind this as the noise is similar and most quite enjoy the warm air on their skin! Also, if you are washing a thick coated horse adding some methylated spirits to the rinsing water will help to evaporate the water from the coat quicker.

Problem: I need to wash the horse before clipping but how do I get all this scruff out of the coat?

Solution: Mix a capful of Dettol and some strong lathering shampoo (Wahl Dirty Beastie or head and shoulders shampoo work well) into hot water and wash the horse making sure to really scrub the mixture into the coat with your hands or a sponge. Rinse and repeat if necessary to really get the coat clean.


Problem: I know I should but I don’t have time to wash the coat before clipping?

Solution: Get yourself a good rubber curry comb and run it in circles all through the coat brushing away the raised dirt vigorously with a good dandy brush. Spray a silicone based coat shine product into the coat and brush through thoroughly with a body brush. The silicone coats the hair and makes it easier for the blades to go through.


line 2.jpg

Problem: I can’t clip lines – help!

Solution: Err on the side of caution (you can take more hair off you cannot put it back on!) and draw your lines on with chalk, make up or a non-permanent marker so give yourself a line to clip along. Remember also why you are doing lines – to neatly finish your clip by hugging the horse’s muscles at the top of the legs – if you look at the muscle line it is much easier to see where to clip. On the face, you clip a half face to the edge of the bridle line or the cheek bone to blend it in.


Problem: I’ve clipped my horse but his coat is full of scruff and dry skin

Solution: Firstly, use baby wipes placed flat on your palm to remove the surface scruff. Secondly add a few drops of oil (baby oil and tea tree is great) to a bucket of hot water and hot towel the horse using a small towel that is dipped in and wrung out.


Problem: My horse’s coat is really thick how do I get an even and close clip?

Solution: Roughly remove the heavy hair from the coat and clip your lines. Brush the coat out thoroughly to remove the loose hair and scruff. Now clip the coat closely using firm and even strokes keeping the machine parallel to the horse’s skin.


Problem: I am afraid I will either clip too close to my horse’s mane or too far from it and end up leaving a ridge?

Solution: Use plaiting bands to tie your horse’s mane straight up tightly into sections. This will stand the mane up and make it clearer on the crest for you to see what is mane and what is neck hair. Clip the mane line slowly and carefully keeping the machine parallel to the mane. If the horse is likely to move or shake its head, have a helper hold the head to prevent this. Some horses have whorls along the crest line which may mean that you need to clip towards the withers to get this hair off. Pay closest attention to the side on which your horse’s mane doesn’t like as this will be most visible.

Problem: How do I clip a whorl?

Solution: Clip the whorls by going against the direction of the hair. This may involve clipping from a few different angles. Look at the direction of the whorl hair to work out which way to go.


Problem: Lines on the coat after clipping

Solution: Always double clip! Clip the hair off the horse going against the growth of the coat and then give the coat a good brush and wipe to remove the loose hair and surface dirt. Now clip the horse again this time using a multi directional approach so clipping with the grain and diagonally which helps to remove lines.

To get the best use from my blades and a perfect finish I clip all over using a 3mm blade. I then brush away all the excess and re clip everywhere except the legs / face / between the front legs with 1mm blades in a four way direction. You would be amazed how much extra hair this removes.


Problem: Horse is nervous / jumpy about the feel of the clippers and it being moved around to new areas

Solution: First use your spare hand by giving it a job – firmly rub the area you will clip next while you are clipping. If you can get into a rhythm of this, the horse is never surprised at the clippers appearing in this area as your hand has been there first. Firmly rubbing the area can help desensitise ticklish areas. For sensitive areas such as the belly your spare hand can also work as a distraction for example I will often put this hand up and tap on the horses back while clipping the belly – it divides the horses attention and takes it away from the area it doesn’t like.

Finally, if the horse hates the on and off movement of the clippers on the coat – don’t take it off! I have clipped a few animals of this persuasion where moving the clippers over and back on the coat while keeping the clippers in constant contact with the coat has greatly reduced the anxiety levels.


Problem: Horse hates the noise of the clippers

Solution: Stabling the horse beside the clipping area can help a lot as they become used to the noise in close proximity. We have a three year old here who was easy to clip for the first time as she is stabled next to the wash bay and had already watched about ten others being done. Secondly use a quiet clippers or a smaller clippers rather than a bigger louder machine. Choosing a machine that doesn’t over heat helps too as you don’t have to switch on and off so often.

If the animal settles and then reacts every time the machine is switched on and you have to switch machines – switch the second machine on before you turn off the first – this means there is no break in sound and you avoid the restart jump reaction.


erAll content produced on this site is my own original content. please do not reproduce in any form without my prior permission. Thanks 



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: