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Show Clip Tips from the Pros

We asked Caley Coffey and Dominique Gauthier, grooms for Team SmartPak riders Jason Martin and Charlie Cole at Highpoint Performance Horses, to share their tips for getting your Western horse show-ring ready:

Clipping a horse can be stressful and messy, but you don’t need to dread clipping your horse! With our simple instructions and tips, you can end up with a horse that looks like he’s been to the groomers, rather than one that’s had a fight with a lawnmower. These are helpful tips that we use in our everyday lives to ensure our horses look their best in and out of the show pen.

Our clipper kit consists of a pair of Wahl clippers and a pair of Oster clippers. We use #10 blades on the legs, #40 blades on the face, ears and whites, and #15 blades under their chin. After each horse has been clipped from top to bottom, the clippers are cleaned so they’re ready for the next horse. Throughout the clipping process, we use clipper coolant to ensure our blades stay fresh and cool, and so that they don’t get clogged up.

Some horses require two people, so before you start, you should have another person ready to assist just in case. Horses who are not used to clippers should be introduced slowly to ensure the experience is pleasant. It’s a good idea to begin by simply turning the clippers on and off a few times while the other person is holding and praising the horse for good behavior.

Horses should be clean before you run clippers on any part of their body to prevent rashes, scratches, and prevent dirty clipper lines. Us girls start with the face, clipping all the whiskers, inside the nostrils, chin, eyes, and lastly ears. If the face has any white markings, we clip those areas with a 40 and blend it with the other face color. The trickiest part to clip on the horse is their ears and legs because you want to avoid clipper lines on the legs and you need to remove all the hair from within their ears. It is important to clip against the direction of hair growth to avoid the lines and tracks. Keeping the clippers well-oiled and blades sharp will also help reduce marks. After horses are clipped, we brush off any excess clippings and spray them with healthy hair and fly spray.

Our horse’s muzzles and eyes are clipped once a week, and legs and ears are left and clipped a couple days before the show. Talk to a trainer or a horse professional about the best suitable plan for your horse, as each horse is different and might require different areas to clip.

Clipping horses isn’t easy and it takes time to learn, so don’t get frustrated if your clip job isn’t perfect on the first try! We’ve made many mistakes along the way, too, including only clipping one ear, missing half a leg, or sending a horse to the show completely unclipped. Watching more experienced people, YouTube videos, and doing your research will help improve your clipping skills.

Good luck and happy clipping!

Posted in Ask The Groom, Blogs

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