How to Clip a Horse with H & H Tips

Two Methods:Preparing to ClipClipping the Horse

Clipping a horse’s hair is an integral part of horse care and grooming. It gives the horse an overall neat appearance, and prevents dirt and other irritants from sticking to the coat. However, it is also a very challenging job, because some horses are nervous due to their young age or because they have not been correctly introduced to electric hair clippers. Apart from being a tedious job, clipping can also be very dangerous to both the horse and the human, because a nervous horse is more likely to kick and cause injury, and is also more likely to move violently and hurt itself. H and H (Horse and Hound UK) is the UK’s oldest equestrian weekly magazine, and includes great guidelines regarding horse clipping.

Method 1
Preparing to Clip

  1. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 1
    Wear proper attire when clipping horses. It is important to wear sensible footwear like boots, or some other footwear that will protect you from sudden steps by the horses.
    • In terms of clothing, avoid wearing fleecy clothing because cut hairs tend to stick to it, and can irritate you while clipping the horse.
    • In addition, wear a cap to prevent your hair from blocking your face, or worse, getting tangled in the clipper.
  2. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 2
    Select the proper location. Select a proper location, preferably one with good lighting.
    • If the weather permits, clipping should be done outside the stable, to ensure that there is enough light for you to have a clear view of what you are clipping.
    • If you are indoors, make sure there is sufficient light available.
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    Restrain the horse using a halter and lead rope held in your hand. During clipping, ensure your and the horse's safety by restraining the horse.
    • Drape the lead rope over the horse’s neck and hold its end to temporarily restrain the animal while you attach the halter.
    • Place the nose band part of the halter over the horse’s nose. Place the head piece over the animal’s ears.
    • Draw the head piece strap underneath the jaw, and attach the snap closure to the ring on the left jaw of the horse. Attach the lead rope on the ring in the chin part of the halter.
    • Then, lead the horse to the area where you will perform clipping by holding the lead rope or halter and pulling it while walking alongside the horse.
    • To restrain the horse, have your assistant tie the lead rope to a post, and have him hold the halter so that when the horse moves, a slight pull of the halter will restrain the horse.
    • If you are working alone, you can restrain the horse by using cross ties that can be attached on each side of the halter, and fixing it to two opposite posts.
  4. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 4
    Groom your horse to prepare him for clipping. The horse must be clean and free from caked dirt and dust prior to clipping.
    • A clean coat will ensure that the clipper will not get tangled while clipping, and become dull and painful for the horse.
    • However, a full bath is probably not necessary.
  5. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 5
    Prepare the clipper and gather other essential materials needed for clipping. Make sure that you have all the necessary accoutrements ready at hand.
    • Gather heavy duty extension cords with circuit breakers.
    • You will need at least one set of shearing clippers for clipping wide areas of hair, and a small clipper for clipping around the face and ears.
  6. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 6
    Set the clippers's tension properly. Before clipping, ensure that the clippers's tension is proper and sufficient.
    • This can be done by reading the manual of your selected clippers for proper tension settings.
    • Additionally, get a wet sponge with warm water that will be used after clipping, as well as good blankets and drapes to cover the horses, especially if the weather is cold.
    • This will help prevent chilling, because newly clipped horses need additional insulation to ensure much needed warmth.
  7. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 7
    Select a hunter clip for heavy work horses. For this type of clip, a line using a chalk is drawn around and above the elbow and knee of the horse. All of the parts of the horse above the line are then clipped, including the belly, face, head and chest. The withers, forelock and tail are not clipped.
  8. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 8
    Choose a tracer clip for light to medium work horses. There are two types of trace clip, the Low Trace Clip, and the High Trace Clip.
    • Low trace clip. For this clip, a line is drawn starting from the throat latch of the horse, passing through the high point of the shoulder, and ending at the flank. Everything that falls below the line is then clipped, including the underside of the neck, the belly and the chest, but not including from the elbow and knee downwards, and the face.
    • High trace clip. This clip is similar to the low trace clip, but the line drawn starts from the high point of the back of the base of ear, passing above the highest point of the shoulder, and ending at the flank. Everything that falls below the line is clipped, including the underside of the neck, the belly and chest, but not including the elbow and knee downwards, and the face.
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    Use other clip types to suit your needs. There are other clip types that are more specialized, depending on the specific circumstances of the horse's use.
    • Use a belly clip for ponies that are ridden out on weekends. Clip hairs from the underside of the neck and the belly.[1]
    • Use a full clip for show horses that are mainly engaged in competition. Use this clip to clip the entire coat, leaving a sleek coat where sweat can evaporate easily. This clip is only used for horses that are not turned out during the winter or at night.[2]
    • Use an Irish clip for light work horses and horses turned out during the day. For this clip, draw a line from the poll to the belly to make a triangle, and clip all of the coat that falls under the line. The legs are not clipped, but sometimes the lower half of the head can be clipped.[3]
    • Use a blanket clip for heavy work horses. Using this clip, the neck is fully clipped and the head is half or fully clipped. Only the legs are left unclipped, letting hair be removed in areas where they sweat a lot, but leaving enough hair to give them warmth.[4]

Method 2
Clipping the Horse

  1. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 10
    Maintain a system and pattern when clipping. Always begin clipping from the less sensitive areas like the shoulders, going upwards to the neck.
    • Clip in long and overlapping strokes, and always go against the hair growth.
    • Do this one side at a time.
  2. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 11
    Check the temperature of the blades and oil the blades every 5 to 10 minutes. Make sure your blades do not overheat, and keep them lubricated with a generous amount of mineral oil (5 to 10 drops).
    • If the blade gets hot, replace it with a fresh set or let it cool down first before using it again.
  3. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 12
    Avoid clipping the mane, tail and forelock of the horse. You can prevent cutting these areas by wrapping the tail with bandage, and by pushing the mane with your other hand when you are clipping an area near it.
    • These areas can irritate the horse when clipped.
  4. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 13
    Use big clippers for large surfaces and small clippers for tight areas. Clip a majority of the hairs using big clippers, and then use smaller clippers on the nooks and ear edges.
    • Move the horse's skin or stretch it using your fingers to reach into nooks and crannies.
    • When you are clipping the face, be careful around the bony edges around the face and eyes.
    • You can cover the eyes with one hand to prevent cut hairs from falling in and irritating the eyes.
    • Additionally, when clipping in this area, make sure that the blades are not hot, because a hot blade can startle the horse.
    • For whiskers, use fine or small clippers.
  5. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 14
    Get someone's help to clip the elbows, hind legs, belly, and trunk. Clipping from the elbows down is a two man job, and you will need an assistant to lift the foreleg of the horse, so that you can stretch and clip the skin behind the elbows.
    • Clipping the hind legs, belly, and trunk, also requires an assistant to make sure that the horse is properly restrained.
    • These areas are ticklish and can startle horses, making them kick.
    • The simple halter restraint discussed earlier may be sufficient.
  6. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 15
    Wipe the horse to clean him off. After clipping, wipe the horse with a warm wet sponge, to remove cut hairs that can cause irritation.
    • Any hairs that are left on the horse can prick their skin and cause them to buck and struggle.
  7. Image titled Clip a Horse with H & H Tips Step 16
    Clean store your clippers and blades. Dust and brush off all the hairs from the clippers.
    • Remove the blades by unscrewing the tension screws.
    • Clean the blades with oil and cloth, using 5 to 10 drops of mineral oil and wiping it away with a flannel cloth.
    • Clean the hand set of the clipper.
    • Store it in a cool, dry place.


  • Your horse can be clipped beginning at the end of September or early October, and can then be clipped several times throughout the winter, whenever the hair has grown and become untidy. The last clip should be around the end of January or early February. The aim of clipping is to allow areas where a lot of sweat accumulates to dry faster and make the horse more comfortable, especially after training or work.
  • Use cordless and quiet clippers. Less wires and noise means less distractions and less of something to fear for nervous, young horses.
  • Get the horse used to the site and sound of clipping, by clipping another calm horse nearby and within her sight. This will de-sensitize the newbie horse, and prevent her from getting excited.
  • Get the horse used to the sound of clippers by running the clippers while grooming. Grooming is a daily activity, and running it first while going near the horse before grooming will prevent a young or nervous horse from getting startled.
  • Seek veterinary help if the horse is very nervous and agitated, because sedation maybe necessary. This can prevent injury to both the horse and the human handler.


  • To avoid this possibility, it is recommended that when you approach horses, always talk in a calm and reassuring, and always approach from the side of the horse.
  • Do not clip the horse during feeding. This will irritate the horse and give you a very hard time.
  • Do not clip during turn-out time, or time when the horses are placed outside the stable. This gets them very excited.
  • Do not dip the blades in water or paraffin during clipping. This can electrocute you and the horse.
  • Do not clip a horse you do not know or an excited and aggressive horse. This is dangerous for both of you.
  • Always be cautious when moving around horses, and especially keep in mind that if you are behind a horse, you are at risk of being kicked.
  • If you are in front of the horse, there is the possibility of getting bitten or pushed.

Sources and Citations

  1. How to clip your horse : HorsesmartVideos
  2. How to clip your horse : HorsesmartVideos
  3. How to clip your horse : HorsesmartVideos
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Article Info

Categories: Horse Grooming