Wahl Clipping Advice

The cooler season is now upon us and once again horse owners everywhere are battling with hairy horses and clipping conundrums. We speak to the experts from Wahl to solve some of your seasonal stresses…


What preparation do you need to do?

Before you begin to clip, check that your clippers are in good condition. The main points to look for include wear and tear on the blades, including missing teeth, rust, or blade tensioning issues, and deterioration or fatigue in the cable. If you are responsible for clipping multiple horses, having a spare set of clippers could come in handy but always ensure you have spare blades, hygienic cleaning spray and sufficient clipper oil to minimize the wear and tear on your machine.  If possible bath your horse the day before you intend to clip.  Reducing the grease and dirt in the coat will improve the performance and lifespan of your clippers.  Place a lightweight rug on your horse about one hour before clipping to lay the coat flat.  Ensure your horse is confident with the sound and vibration of the clippers before you begin. If your horse is new to clipping or nervous, take a little time prior to clipping to help de-sensitize him. Start by turning the clippers on at a distance and allow the horse to become accustomed to the noise and then the feel of the vibrations on his skin. Take things slowly and allow plenty of time.


How can I make sure I am safe when clipping?

If you are using mains operated clippers ensure that you have an adequate electrical supply that conforms to the safety standards of your particular clippers and always use a circuit breaker.  Switch your clippers off before connecting or disconnecting them from the mains and always disconnect clippers before cleaning or carrying out any maintenance such as changing clipper blades. Never use a damp outdoor socket and never clip a wet or damp horse. Also remember to regularly check your clippers, electric leads and connectors so that repairs can be carried out before equipment failure causes injury to the user or the horse.  If the blades feel hot or the motor starts to struggle then stop clipping, clean and oil the blades, allowing them to cool down and ensure they are still sharp before recommencing.  For maximum safety have a helpful assistant to hold your horse and assist you wherever necessary.


What are the benefits of using battery operated clippers?

Battery operated clippers provide you with a safer and more flexible option – you can clip in any location without the requirement for mains power.  This allows you and the horse to move to where you are comfortable, and particularly for a fidgety horse, it is reassuring to know that there are no electric cables on the floor that may be trodden on or tripped over. Before using the clippers ensure that the battery pack is fully charged.  Most battery packs include a light indicating the charge level.  Once you are ready to clip, plug the clippers into the battery pack and ensure that the battery pack is secured safely before you commence clipping.  The ability to move around your horse without the restriction of cables makes the process easier and much less stressful.


How do I make sure my lines are straight and the finish is smooth?

Use a piece of dampened chalk to outline your clip for a neater, more precise finish. If you wish to leave a patch of hair beneath the saddle, place the saddle on the horse’s back and draw around it. Drawing around a numnah is misleading because it lies flat. The clipper blades should run flat against the coat and always move against the direction of hair growth. Do not use the clippers at an angle, digging into the coat, or apply uneven pressure as this will leave lines in the coat and result in an irregular finish. Pushing the clippers through the hair too quickly before they have cut may clog the blades, which will also result in poor cutting performance.  If you struggle with tramlines in the coat, try placing a lightweight rug on the horse for at least an hour prior to clipping.  This warms the coat resulting in the hair laying flat hence reducing the risk of tramlines.  However do not allow the horse to sweat as dampness will prematurely blunt the clipper blades and affect the finish.


How can I get to all those fiddly bits if my horse is fidgety?

Trimmers are a real asset when keeping the hair around the face, head and legs neat and tidy. Choose a set of rechargeable battery powered trimmers that are quiet with low vibration levels to improve the experience for your horse. The blades on professional trimmers are often narrower than standard clipper blades allowing more flexibility to getting into all the lumpy bumpy bits without causing injury.  Some trimmers feature variable blade cutting lengths which can be useful for leaving a little more hair in areas such as the legs.  Cutting the hair very short can result in an angular finish which doesn’t always look good on fine or boney areas.


How do I take care of my clippers and trimmers?

Whilst clipping or trimming it is advisable to clean and oil your blades intermittently to maintain performance and finish.  When the clip or trim is finished, brush off all loose hair from the blades and the hand piece, use a hygienic spray to flush through any grease or grit and then oil the blades and store everything in a protective box, in a cool and dry environment. Rechargeable, battery operated trimmers and clippers will need re-charging, so remember to charge them before every use. To keep your clippers performing at their best, they should be professionally serviced regularly, at least once a year. It is a good idea to remove the blades, clean and oil them and wrap them in an oily cloth or greaseproof paper to prevent rusting whilst stored.  Care of the blades is important to maximize their lifespan.  Sharp, clean, rust-free, well-oiled blades will provide high performance cutting and finish for considerably longer than neglected blades.  Make sure you have blades sharpened regularly by a trained professional as they will blunt and dull over time.  Where possible keep a range of blades sharp and ready to go so that you don’t have to waste time by waiting for blunt blades to be re-sharpened.  In the event that you experience problems with your clippers always refer to the manufacturer for advice and information on resolving the issue.


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