Clipping Made Easy

By Wendy Talbot on 16 December 2019

Clipping made easy

Now is the time to give your horse a short back and sides to remove that woolly winter coat and help keep him cool when he’s being exercised. But before you reach for your clippers take a look at our top tips for easy clipping and turn the annual task you dread into a job to relish………

Service your clippers:

There’s not much worse than a set of clippers packing up on you half way through a clip, meaning you will have to leave your horse looking moth-eaten until you get them fixed or can borrow a new set from a friend. 

Make sure your clippers are clean, mechanically sound and well-oiled. Check that the blades are sharp and that you have a spare set to hand just in case. 

Make sure your horse is clean and dry:

A damp dirty horse will blunt your blades in no time. Blunt blades can be uncomfortable for your horse because they will snag on the coat and won’t achieve the sleek, shiny, newly shorn look you are after.

Familiarise your horse with clippers:

Don’t suddenly pop up with a pair of noisy clippers and expect your horse to be compliant. Whether your horse has been clipped before or not make sure they are unfazed by the noise and by the vibration of the clippers before attempting to clip. 

Let your horse see the clippers and cables. With them turned off gently rest them on his shoulder and move them up and down. Turn them on and get him used to the noise, the vibration and the movement of the cable before starting to clip. 

Nervous horses may appreciate being introduced to a quiet, battery operated trimmer before being approached with a whirring set of industrial clippers!

Choose a calm environment:

Find a safe place to clip your horse, where you know they will feel comfortable and secure. A well-lit stable, with the bedding swept to the sides can work well and many horses will feel happier if they can see yard companions too. 

Giving your horse a haynet can help keep him settled but it will need to be moved when you are attempting to keep your clip lines straight on the neck and head!

Choose your clip:

Whether you are doing a full, chaser, blanket or bib clip mark your lines with dressmaker’s chalk before you start to make sure you do an even, tidy job. 

Use your clippers confidently:

Use firm, long strokes against the lie of your horse’s hair in a regular tempo and with a smooth even contact. Don’t rush and be sure to clean the hair from the clippers every 5-10 minutes and oil the blades. If the blades feel hot swap them for another set.

Be safe:

Always use a circuit breaker for mains-operated clippers. Wear sturdy shoes and preferably overalls as horse hair gets everywhere!

Clean after clipping:

Give your horse a thorough wipe-over with a warm, damp cloth to remove any errant hairs and to leave a good shine and remember to put a rug on to make up for the hair loss!

Clean your clippers thoroughly, remove the blades and oil them so that they are ready for the next clip.

With planning, plenty of time and the right equipment clipping can be hugely satisfying. It’s a great opportunity to build a relationship of trust with your horse and if it’s done calmly and correctly many horses actually seem to enjoy the experience.


  1. King M. and Summers J. How to clip a horse video masterclass

    Accessed 22 October 2019




Wendy graduated from Bristol University in 1999. She then went on to complete a residency at Liverpool University and holds a European Diploma in Equine Internal Medicine. After working in practice for 13 years, she joined Zoetis in 2012 as the National Equine Veterinary Manager.

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