I was lucky enough to have been born into the world of horses, and even more lucky that I never got tired of it and wanted to pursue it further; I grew up with Quarter Horses, then learned a few of the ins and outs of the Thoroughbred industry, and then sort of stumbled upon the world of Warmbloods and their hunter and jumper competitions. I started professionally grooming for other people in 2009, and then after moving my way up into managing AA show horses for a few years on the circuit, I decided I wanted to become available to the rest of the horse world, and I started my own business, TAG Equine Services LLC.
As of October, I have successfully made it in business on my own for 1 full year! What an amazing, exhausting, exciting, and fulfilling last year this has been! The paramount service, and main reason for starting my business, was professional body clipping. Over my years on the circuit I met other professional grooms that had started clipping as their sole business as well. I fell in love with the art of clipping horses and the instant gratification of having a perfect show-ring-ready hunter or jumper. I knew that professional clipping was for me when George Morris complimented my perfectly turned out horse, and in the same week with the same horse, I won the $1,000 Grooms Class in Wellington FL on week 10 of WEF 2015.
I gained the nickname “Tim the Clipper Guy” over a few years of clipping on the side after a full day’s work, and over the last year I decided to keep the name and made it a part of who I am and what I do. I believe that every horse, no matter if it’s your trail horse, or your horse is competing in top International Dressage, hunter or jumper shows, or if your horse needs to stay cool to combat their Cushings, deserves to look just as good as you.
Need help perfecting your clips? Here are my top five horse clipping tips:
1. The first step to giving your horse a perfect clip is to make sure your horse is clean.
I don’t mean just hosing your horse off and throwing him back in the stall to then roll again; I mean bubble bath, scrub, and blow dry. My personal favorite shampoo to use Shapley’s High Shine. It’s a concentrated shampoo that cleans your horse without using harsh fillers and that doesn’t strip the natural oils out of your horse’s skin and coat. A sponge is a great way to apply the soap and water, but you really need to scrub after you apply. I love my HandsOn gloves or Jack’s grooming mitt. Really scrub your horse’s coat to get the dirt and sand out. Rinse your horse really well, and get all of the water out with a scraper or squeegee, and then stand your horse under a heat lamp or in the cross ties with a fan blowing on them. While they are standing to dry, I love to spray my horses with Shapley’s Magic Sheen. Magic Sheen is a silicone spray that will make the coat nice and slick for clipping. It doesn’t contain any harsh fillers, it will not dry out the coat and it is water based, so it does not collect dust.
2. Now that your horse is dry and prepared for clipping, you must make sure your tools are ready for a 2 to 2 ½ hour clipping session.
I personally use the Wahl KM10 clippers with the Andis T10 or T84 blades for the body. Start with a fresh set of clipper blades. If your horse is clean and you take care of the blades properly throughout the clipping, they should last about 4 to 6 horses. Make sure you oil your blades every 15 to 20 minutes and only use the cool lube sprays twice per session: one time when you are finished with one side of the horse, and once when you are done clipping to clean the blade and to disinfect before using on another horse. If you over-use the cool lube sprays, you will gum up the blades and they will not perform as well. Oil is the key– just like the engine in your car needs oil to stay cool, so do your clipper blades. For the ears, muzzle, and detailed work of clipping, I love using a cordless adjustable blade clipper. They are quiet, and the horses seem to like the smaller clippers for the sensitive areas, which means that I have more success with less restraint of the horse.
3. Once you’ve started clipping, you need to make sure that there are no lines.
Your horse needs to be perfect for the Jog tomorrow morning or for their class under the lights tonight. I don’t take long strokes when clipping, rather I take shorter strokes in a Y pattern. Go with the hair and then go back over the same area against the hair for no lines. If you have lines that just won’t go away, you either haven’t oiled your blade enough or need to replace your blade drive in your clippers.
4. Clipping can be exhausting. Whether you are clipping 1 horse per day, or 4 or 5 like I do most days, you need to take a break and sometimes so does the horse.
If the horse gets antsy and won’t stop moving, it usually means it has to pee, or that it is feeding time. Don’t force the horse to stand there just because it is inconvenient for you to take a break. It is better for your safety and the safety of the horse that you pay attention to their actions. If it is feeding time, don’t force them to miss their feed while everyone else eats because they will just make you mad by not listening. While they eat or take a break, make sure you drink some water and eat a granola bar or banana. You need energy for clipping so you can last 2 to 10 hours. If you allow the horse to have a break, they will be happier and associate you with a good clipping experience. A good clipping experience for the horse means a better clipping outcome.
5. You Finished! Congratulations! Double check over your horse to make sure you haven’t missed any areas.
Did you get the bridle path, sheath area, under the tail? Is your triangle above the tail even, did you clean out the ears? After a few horses back-to-back, it is sometimes helpful to have other people check each horse because by that time it can all start to look the same. Finally, take your horse back to the wash rack. Rinse all of the loose hair off and then fill a small bucket with water. Add a few capfuls of Shapley’s Light Oil No.1 to the bucket of water and mix. Sponge the oily water all over your horse and then scrape off and towel. The oil replenishes the skin and hair with moisture and gives the horse an amazing shine. If your horse has sensitive skin or deals with skin issues after clipping, give your horse a bath in Shapley’s Medi-Care shampoo which has lemongrass and tea tree oil to prevent fungus and to help keep the bugs at bay while giving your horse an amazing shine. Now that your horse is ready, make sure you properly clean your tools to have them ready for the next horse.Clipping is an art and the horse is your canvas. Click To Tweet
Clipping your horse is a very un-natural thing for them to experience. If you have a horse that is nervous for clipping, consult your veterinarian to discuss options for sedation, making sure you are within the USEF or FEI guidelines and rules for sedation around competition time, or explore natural training techniques such as clicker training for future clips. You can use humane restraints in most situations such as a light twitch on the nose to clip ears. I have encountered many types of horses and all of them are different—keep in mind the personality of each horse that you clip! Make sure you are aware of your surroundings for your safety and the safety of the horse. Most importantly, have fun when you are clipping and watch your horse transform!
I look forward to seeing you and your perfectly clipped horses on the circuit or on the trails. If you need clipping services, I am available in the South Florida area year-round. I will be happy to come to your barn to clip or to even give clipping clinics, and I travel throughout the summer to go to other shows and barns. Check out my Facebook page, TAG Equine Services LLC, follow me on Instagram, @tim_the_clipper_guy, and check out my website, www.tagequineservices.com. There I have pictures and educational videos for you to learn about my favorite products and learn more about grooming and clipping. Happy Grooming!