Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Body Clipping 101

Imp before being clipped..the wooly beast! Imp after....

body clipping: the act of transferring all of the hair on your horse to your body.

I don't know of any horse owner who enjoys body clipping. Many, are willing to fork over more than a hundred dollars to pay somebody to perform this chore.

It is back breaking, takes hours to do, the horse usually doesn't cooperate and requires being sedated, and when you are finally finished, you are covered in itchy horse hair.

For some, it passes sheath cleaning on the "yuck" scale of horse chores.

I have been pretty lucky. For years, I have had very little clipping to do.

Imp, our Thoroughbred mare, never had much of a winter coat. When she was competing, I never had to clip her.

Tucker, my draft cross from Canada, did have a coat. But because he was young and not going anywhere in the winter, I never bothered to clip him. Which was good, because when he was younger, he had an aversion to clippers and even the simple act of clipping whiskers and ears required a twitch. (I am happy to report that he outgrew that aversion!)

Dolly, our little Quarter Horse mare, unfortunately did require clipping. She had an even worse aversion to clippers than Tucker did. And you simply did not come near her with a twitch. It just wasn't going to happen. So, like alot of things with the aged mare, we compromised. She allowed me to do a modified trace clip and in exchange, she only popped me in the face with her knees a few times instead of kicking me to a pulp. It was a good compromise.

Like much in life, things change.

Dolly has crossed the rainbow bridge to greener pastures. Tucker has adapted to Florida and doesn't grow much of a winter coat. Ironically, about the time he stopped growing a coat was the time that Imp did start growing a coat. Imp is now a wooly mammoth. It is strange. The year we retired her and she had her knee surgery, she started growing a coat, which every winter since, gets longer and longer.

I am a regular visitor to the Chronicle of the Horse website and every year, there is a thread about wet clipping.

In years past, when I had to body clip, I did the normal method: you wait for a warm day, bathe the horse, wait hours for the horse to dry and then start clipping. Proponents of wet clipping advocated that you could skip the hours of waiting for the horse to dry and start clipping the horse while wet. I was intriqued.

This is the second year that I have clipped Imp while she was wet. I love it!

Immediately after bathing her, I scrape the excess water off and immediately start clipping her. Fortunately, Imp's impeccable manners carry over to clipping and she demonstrates perfect manners throughout the clipping, although she is ticklish on her left flank and I had to remind her a couple of times that I was standing next to that cocked hind leg. Having a well mannered horse makes clipping so much easier and faster.

With wet clipping, the biggest bonus is that I am not covered in itchy horse hair! The wet hair either drops right to the ground or stays on the horse in a clump, which with a swoop of the hand is removed. You really realize how much hair does not land on you when you get to the final 10% and the hair is dry and flying straight off into your face....I should have re-wet her at that point, but wanted to keep going.

The other advantage to wet clipping is that there are no clip lines. Also, the clippers stay cooler and I don't have to lubricate the blades as often...in fact, this time around, I couldn't find my lubricant and didn't use any at all.

The pictures above are the proof that wet clipping works. Some posters on COTH say it doesn't work for them. I don't know if there is a difference with clippers (I use the Oster Clipmaster), if there is a difference in hair or what, but I do know it works for me, and it is nice to finish the job and not be covered in hair!

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