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Kylie Whiteside

How To Clip

Lead-in-Clipping

Western performance horses can be shown or rode in a variety of styles. That’s the beauty of our disciplines – we have a lot of freedom when it comes to manes and tails. Certainly some rules apply to specific classes but for a great majority of us, long flowing manes are the trend. Whiskers may or may not be clipped and hair in the ears is not really an issue, although some ranch horse versatility classes have recently made it a ruling for all horses to maintain the natural hairs in their ears.

Having said all that, to be able to clip your horse without a fuss is one of the best life skills you can teach your equine companion. You never know when a neatly groomed bridle path may come in handy, or if an area on the body might need to be clipped for a veterinary procedure. If your horse is opposed to clippers in every way, here are a few tips professional trainer Clay Webster always offers his students for clipping a horse safely.

***********
To teach a horse how to accept clippers, I use only a halter and a good lead shank. For the first few times of introducing clippers to a horse, I do not tie my horse up and instead maintain a grip on the lead by tucking the rope into the crook of my elbow. This allows me to hold onto my horse but also affords me a free hand to hold the clippers. Once the horse is used to the process, tying them for clipping should not be an issue.

Pic-#1
STEP #1 – I like to teach my horses to lower their heads on my cue so that clipping is easy, accurate and low-stress on all of us. I do this by spending time with my horses, prior to ever picking up a set of clippers. Essentially I will apply gentle, but steady pressure behind the horse’s ears on top of the poll area. As the horse lowers its head, I release my pressure. Gradually I work towards getting the horse to lower its head further and further down, taking great care to release my pressure whenever the horse shows me the slightest amount of the desired result. My horse will learn from the release of pressure – he does not learn from the pressure itself. When I can cue my horse to lower his head to the desired height, I can start thinking about the next step.

STEP #2 – Next, I will grab a pair of clippers and begin to introduce them to my horse. It’s important to note that I actually turn the clippers on for step #2. With the motor running I show my horse the clippers and begin to rub him with them to get him comfortable with their sensation. With my body positioned in a safe location (for instance, at the shoulders and not in front of his front hooves or a place where he may be able to strike me,) I rub the clippers on several areas of his body. Areas that he may be able to accept the clippers easily include the chest, shoulders, neck. Typically I will start by rubbing the clippers on one shoulder, then work my way up the neck until he becomes comfortable with them.

When I see that my horse has begun to accept the clippers on the shoulder and neck, I will ask him to drop his head once again. Then I progress the clippers up to the area behind his ears. If he jerks his head up really fast, pulls back, or bolts, etc. I work the clippers back to an area that he was happy with and start over. Practice makes perfect and there’s no sense in getting upset with my horse if he isn’t ready to accept the clippers immediately.

Pic-#2

 

STEP #3 – If the process seems to be taking an overly long time, I may actually set the clippers down and walk my horse to an area where he can be worked safely. Then I would proceed to lunge him around me and make him work. Once my horse’s demeanor returns back to a positive attitude (ears forward and paying attention, head hanging in a relaxed position and not high in the air like an elk), I will calmly walk him back to the area where we left off with the clippers and start again. When horses protest against something you may ask of them, often a little reminder of “work” is all they need. If they don’t want to accept the clippers, my horse can start moving his body at my direction in the arena. His heart, lungs and muscles can pick up the pace. And when we return to the clippers, he can stand and relax – helping him to associate the other place with work, while the clippers are paired with rest and relaxation. At the clippers, my horse gets a reward. Once things have calmed down, I turn the clippers on and start again.

Pic-#3

 

STEP #4 – Another important point to note is that my clippers should be well-maintained and oiled. If they are not, the blades won’t cut the hairs nicely and may actually pull on them, causing the horse slight discomfort. Plan your clips, so you don’t accidentally take too much off and ensure both sides of your horse are even in whatever you do. A good rule of thumb for a bridle path is to gently bend one of the horse’s ear back and guide you to a length to clip – the tip of the ear laid back is generally where one would clip to. I have seen western bridle paths shorter than this of course (just enough to comfortably lay the headstall), and I have seen horses without bridle paths too. Check the rules of your association and discipline to ensure a bridle path is permissible to show and what length, if any, is required.

STEP #5 – When I have my horse confident with the running clippers, it’s time to start clipping hairs. Whether it’s the bridle path area, on his muzzle or elsewhere, I always ensure to gently lay the clippers against my horse’s skin enough to get the cutting done, but not so much that they’re digging into him. It’s important not to tickle the horse (which can happen if the clippers aren’t applied firmly enough) but also not pressing too hard into him either. Luckily most of today’s modern clippers are made with great protective blades so it’s difficult to cut your horse.

STEP #6 – When clipping, use long over-lapping strokes that go with the direction of hair growth. Some people prefer to go against the grain but I find clipping so much easier when you go with the hair follicles. Avoid forcing the clippers through an area you wish to clip. If the blades don’t seem to be cutting the hairs, they may need cleaning, sharpening or oiling. Part way through your clip session, you may need to clean and oil your clipping blades. I find that I often have to do this every 10 minutes.

Clay Webster is a professional trainer with over 21 years in the industry. He specializes in the disciplines of reining and cow horse. For more information about him, check out: www.claywebster.com

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BACK ISSUES February 2008

SPECIAL FEATURE:
15 Horse People of the Year. In honor of our 15th anniversary, we profile 15 Canadian horse people who make the horse world a better place.

Common Sense or Cowboy Cool?
More western riders are opting to trade in their stetsons for helmets, still, perceptions are slow to change. In this issue, we profile four western riders who in the minority – they wear helmets.

Ready to Trim?
New science and theories show why the trim is the most important component of a healthy hoof.

Oh, the Adventures You’ll Have
Think a job in the horse industry is low paying or only available to those who want to be vets, farriers or trainers? Think again, and check in on the great jobs in the horse industry we profile for you this issue.

Diagnosing Lameness
Four common scenarios and best methods of treatment.

Plus: Rodeo news, the famous Butterfield breeding program, AQHRA year-end winners and much more, all in the February issue of Western Horse Review.
Pick up the latest issue on newsstands now or subscribe online.

Price: $5.00

BACK ISSUES July 2007

Trail Riding Tips
Read our compilation of tips by top riders.

Slow it Down – Lengthen it Out
Dean and Pat Ross show you how to get your horse ready for English events.

Cedar Crest Farm
Gilbert and Rhonda Thompson and the owners of BL Whiz Kid.

Spooking: Frustration or Opportunity
Jonathan Field plants the seeds of trust and communication.

Price: $5.00

BACK ISSUES November 2007

Barn Sour or Barn Sweet
In this two-part installment, we show you how to make your horse comfortable in his own company.

The Stock Market
Back by popular demand, experts analyze the worth of equine investments.

Kicking ‘Em Out Back
Everything you need to know before kicking your equine companions into the back pasture for the most challenging Canadian season.

Young Guns
Preserving the future of rodeo by giving kids a helpful start into this high-profile sport.

Trainer Directory
Choose your mentor from this roster of some of Canada’s most talented horse trainers.

Price: $5.00

BACK ISSUES October 2007

Defining Equitation
Develop your seat with Jonathan Field’s advice for becoming an active rider.

Blanket Buyers Guide
Custom made or off the rack, we give you a clue about the latest fabrics, fills and fashions – everything you need to know to protect your horse from the elements.

Step Up, or Step Off
In this exclusive book excerpt, 15-time reining world champion Craig Johnson, helps you refine your rundown and utilize fencing drills to the fullest.

Top Notch Quarter Horses
Our October breeder profile features a Stony Plain family with a great deal of heart and love for the western performance horses.

Price: $5.00

BACK ISSUES September 2007

Through the Crystal Ball
A look at pre-purchase evaluations. The associated truths and misconceptions you need to know before you buy your next prospect.

Raising a Healthy Hoof
The role genetics, movement, shoeing, diet and early care play in the development of your horse’s feet.

Horse Health Products
Some new, some tried and true. 10 health products that might be beneficial in your equine medical box.

Equine Ulcer Report
New research about Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome reveals useful – and surprising – results.

Price: $5.00

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A Complete Guide to Selecting and Caring for Your Horse

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effective communication and safe handling, grooming,
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Barn Guide To Horse Health Care & First Aid

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Price: $19.95

Concise Guide to Respiratory Disease

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Controlling Your Horse’s Speed

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Cherry Hill teams up with Richard Kilmesh to address the topics of hoof care and horseshoeing. This book covers what every horse owner needs to know about this critical key to a horse’s overall health and well-being.
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Horse Journal Guide to Equine Supplements and Nutraceuticals

Complete with comparative charts, useful sidebars, and practical insights, it guides you in making decisions about optimal nutrition and preventive care for your horse.
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Riding For Life

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Ensuring your horse’s comfortable and free to move is a focus of master saddle maker, Todd Bailey, as he demonstrates how to measure your own horse.
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Blessed are the Foals

HC 44.95 – Beginning with delivery, emergencies such as failure to breathe, to rise and to nurse are addresses along with developmental conditions. A classic equine bible on the foal’s first year.

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SC 304 pages – An excellent guide to help breeders sift through the myriad of details about breeding and focus on what’s most important to the health and well-being of their animals.

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John Lyons offers his proven program for starting young horses on their way to becoming reliable partners. In 20 progressive training sessions, laid out in clear photos and concise step-by-step instructions, Lyons demonstrates how to start a weanling horse. Each lesson builds on the previous one using stress-free, conditioned-response techniques so that the young horse is never over-faced. A bestseller!

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Early Learning Imprint Training with Dr. Miller

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