Hairy Horse Showing?

With the correct technique, even a wooly beast can be clipped into shape. Here, tips on clipping your horse's ears:

For a lot of people, coming into show season off the winter months means you have to deal with a thicker coat when you clip your horse for those first shows. As a judge, I see a lot of poor clipping jobs on horses with heavier coats that have lines that clearly show where the clipping begins.

But I’ve show-clipped a lot of horses with thicker coats, and you can make them look as neatly clipped as any horse with a summer coat. I’ll show you how with this mare. It’s early in the year, and she hasn’t been kept in a heated barn; we’re going to clip her for the first time this show season.

We’ll start with her ears. A lot of horses are sensitive about their ears, and it can be due to a number of reasons. For one, some people handle their horse’s ears too roughly; you just can’t do that.

People also often use blades that are not sharp so they pull the hair instead of cutting it. Before you begin, make sure your blades are sharp and clean.

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And people will let the blades get too hot to be close to sensitive ears. They usually clip the muzzle and the horse’s face and then go to the ears, but that’s a lot of clipping, and the blades will get hot. That’s why I do the ears first.

All of these activities make the horse uncomfortable, and horses begin to associate the clipping with that. But if you think about the horse, you can alleviate a lot of that discomfort.

Step 1 – Here’s what I use to clip ears early in the season: Regular clippers with size 10 and 40 blades, a smaller set of clippers for inside the ear and a product to lubricate your blades. I use Oster Kool Lube because it also cools your blades if they get hot.

Step 2 – A very fuzzy ear. This time of year, you can’t clip the same as you do in the summer. You don’t want to clip too closely because the hair is too long; instead you want to think about blending the hair.

Step 3 – When I start, I’ll turn the clippers on and let the mare get used to the noise a little first. As you handle the ear, think of supporting the ear with your hand, don’t grab it.

Step 4 – I start with a No. 10, which is the largest blade available. When a horse is coming off the winter with a thicker hair coat, you want to start with the larger blades – you’ll be able to blend the hair better. The key is to make long, sweeping cuts and use a real soft touch. You start with just getting off the extra hair and trimming from the tip around the outside of the ear.

Step 5 – Take care of the longer fuzzy hairs on the back of the ear, too. Stay with your No. 10 blades, and turn your clippers over so you clip with the hair and blend it. I’ll come back later with a smaller blade to touch it up.

Step 6 – Before I clip the inside of the ear, I’ll take some old pantyhose, such as a knee-high, and gently put that in her ear. It keeps the hair from falling in the ear and helps with the noise. It makes it more comfortable for the horse.

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Step 7 – For the inside of the ears, now I put the No. 40 blades on. Again, you want to support the ear with your hand and make long, smooth strokes with the clippers. To get the hair inside, support the ear and gently turn it inside out. Don’t grab.

Step 8 – When I want to get the inside corner, I use my smaller clippers. They are equivalent to No. 40 blades. They are a lot easier to use there. These smaller clippers are especially handy for clipping foals or yearlings because their ears are smaller.

Step 9 – After you get the hair out of the inside of the ear, then touch up a little bit around the outside edge with the No. 40 blades. The key here is a light touch and a lot of blending – turn your clippers over to clip.

Step 10 – The ears are done. Now we can move on to clipping the rest of her face.