Written by: Jessica Lefroy

A full body clip is most often given to horses that will be competing year-round and need to be presented in ring-ready condition at all times.

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If the horse is blanketed properly and turnout is monitored according to weather conditions, the question of comfort shouldn’t be an issue. Clipping allows those in full work to be cooled down efficiently, but ensure that the quarters are covered to keep the large muscles warm, either with a cooler while in cross-ties or a quarter sheet during warmups.

Jan Dedick has been body clipping ‘A’ circuit hunters and jumpers for close to 30 years. Here, she shares her tips to achieving a perfect clip.

– Always start with a clean, dry horse. Dirt, scurf and dander will dull and clog the blades, causing the clippers to heat up.

– Tie up and wrap the tail in an ace bandage or similar wrap to ensure there are no ‘accidents’ that result in a wispy tail.

– Situate yourself in a safe cross-tie area that is well-lit, has breakaway cross-ties, rubber mats, and is free of obstruction or traffic.

– Have all the equipment at hand before starting: clippers, spare blades, lubricant and coolant, clipper brush, towel, and spare clippers in case of overheating. You will need a different set of clippers for the body and face/delicate areas.

– Oil and lubricate the blades frequently. Pausing to do so every 10-15 minutes will allow a chance to cool and clean the blades.

– Pay close attention not to cut the horse on sensitive, bony or wrinkly areas – remember that blades are sharp.

– Always alert the horse to your presence with a hand on the body. Use your hands to stretch the skin as you work.

– Remember that regular and vigorous currying is even more necessary after a horse is clipped to ensure the coat is conditioned with natural oils.

Most horses will need sedation before a full body clip. If this is the case, it is imperative not to leave the horse unattended, so be prepared with all of your equipment. Start with the head, then move to the most dangerous areas while the horse is most deeply sedated. Most often this means the hind legs, flank, belly, front legs, and then proceed with the rest of the body and neck. Some horses will sweat heavily while under sedation, often in the elbow, behind the ears, and flanks, so these areas should be dealt with swiftly to avoid complications. Moving swiftly and efficiently is of utmost importance while the horse is under sedation, and so a proper technique will help avoid body soreness and irritation. Know that horses can still kick even while under sedation, so always practice safe horsemanship and don’t become complacent.

Always clip in short strokes and keeping the blades parallel to the skin to avoid clipper marks. Clip against the direction of the hair, and stretch out the skin to get a close shave. When all is said and done, examine closely at all angles and under various light conditions to be sure no spots have been missed. A warm and damp towel over the horse will sooth the skin and help minimize any heat lines that may have popped up during the clip.