I clipped for the first time last fall. I also did it when I was 13 but that doesn't count as that was too many moons ago
It took me about 5 hours total and it actually was a little fun. My perfectionist side got to come out. I had new Andis clippers and actually watched the DVD that came with them. Those clippers are awesome. Check on You tube for vids.
Make sure horse is clean or you'll dull your blades. Lubricate them often and when they start getting too warm. Wear something comfortable that little prickly hairs can be washed out of. Don't wear schooling tights and a fleece top like I did. That resulted in one million pokey hairs that didn't wash out after many washes! Those hairs will get in your ears, underwear, bra...everywhere! I'm actually considering wearing something slick like a plastic bag the next time I do it!
On tricky parts like the legs, elbows, the underside of the face, pull the skin taut with your other hand. Hold the blade flat as you go against the hair, not pointed upwards or you will get more noticeable trackmarks. I noticed a few mistakes the next day but just fired up the clippers again to catch them. If you wait too long the fixes will look messy and shorter than the the rest of the hair.
I body clipped my horse for the first time last October. I was so nervous about butchering him but it was so easy! Luckily my horse stands very quietly up until the face so the body was straight forward enough.
What really helped me was having a clean, dry horse and nice sharp blades. It helps to have nice clippers too. Everyone I know uses a #10 blade all over. I used a 10 wide for the large, easy to get to parts, and a normal 10 for the legs and face. Make sure to pull the elbow skin flaps tight so you get all the hair. Most people also seem to make an upside down 'V' above the tail.
Stop every so often to oil or spray blade cleaner on and check to make sure the blades don't get too hot.
The only thing I felt was difficult was getting the hair out of my clothes afterword! Avoid fleece at all costs and be sure to wear clothes you dont really care about getting hair in forever! My friend clips with a garbge over her body (cut arms and a neck hole) and she says that works well too. My horse is a brat about his face but I got it done with the help of a friend and a twitch. You'll be fine, just make sure to go against the grain of the hair. Good luck!
1. Bathe your horse. I mean scrub like your life depends on it, especially right along the spine. I swear crud and dirt collects there more than anywhere else. Then wait til the horse is dry and fluffy before you start clipping. Damp hair = bad.
2. Have more than one set of blades, so you can swap them out and not have to wait for them to cool. Blade wash will cool them, but a good 15-20 min break cools them better.
3. Dont worry too much about it. A wise person (and excellent clipper) once told me that the difference between an OK body clip and a great body clip is 3 days. The difference between a terrible body clip and an OK body clip is a week.
I don't stress that much about them being totally dry. That probably makes me a bad clipper, but they won't explode or get electrocuted or anything.
My clippers came with a case that was completely useless. Get a tool box with room for blade wash, cool lube, extra blades, a small tupperware (to fill with blade wash so you can dip the blades), a screw driver and a small paintbrush (to clean the clippers). Maybe even an extension cord. I find I'm much better about good practices like cleaning/switching blades if I have everything in one place.
Also, the tops of their legs (armpit-type area) are the easiest places to accidentally cut, in my experience. Use extreme caution there.
I have clipped many times but just wanted to chime in. I like to clip with the horse slightly damp. The hair doesn't go all over the place then. Also when clipping showsheen is great. Let's the blades slide through so much easier.
Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
Clean the horse. Then, clean the horse again. When horse is spotless (wet or dry, doesn't matter to me), apply showsheen.
Start on an area where lines don't show- like a gaskin or forearm, or the bottom of the belly.
After a few strokes, you'll get a feel for how fast or slow to move the clippers for best results, and what angle to hold them at.
I overlap each clipper stroke by about 50%, so each area gets two passes per clip.
Make sure you stop every minute or two and feel the clipper blades. They get hot very easily- and that isn't pleasant for the horse. I keep 2-3 sets for a body clip and change out the blade every time it gets too warm.
And remember, even if it looks awful when you finish- within two weeks it will look great.
Wear paper coveralls (can get at any hardware store, used by drywallers) and one of those dust masks. The coveralls even have a hood, which will keep horsehair out of your hair. These coveralls are QUITE roomy, I usually put a twine belt on and tuck the sleeve ends into rubber gloves.
I don't clip all that often, and you do get quite a bit better with a little practice, but the first time...god. Tiny itchy hairs EVERYWHERE. Including up my nose, in my mouth...you may not chatter away at your horse like I do though.
ALso, plan for lots of resting. Clipping is speedy if you do it often, but if you're doing a full body for the first time? I think it took me just under three hours. And my mare was a SUPER STAR. The next clip only took just under 2.
Use chalk to mark out your clipping barriers, and have someone else check and see if your lines are level before you start. You get so focused on details, it's pretty easy to forget and go right on past your borders...lots of "Hunter" clips in our barn turned into "Full body" clips due to this
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