What do I need to do after I clip my horse?
Most Pro Grooms have a set of clippers handy year round. In the fall, it’s time to body clip, trace clip, or some other variation. In the winter, you can trim up the goat like hairs that sprout up. In the spring and summer, it’s sometimes a good idea to clip below knees and hocks.
It’s best to prep the skin for clipping, as this will decrease irritation from the blades and make the whole process easier. I like to do these steps before clipping the body, the legs, or both:
- Start with a horse that has a naturally oily and healthy coat.
- Have a squeaky clean and dry horse. Sweat scrape, towel dry, air dry. Try to avoid walking in dust or dirt, and just this once don’t let your horse roll.
- Make sure your clipper blades are wickedly sharp and oiled. (This article here has more info on clipper blades.)
- Know exactly where skin irregularities are, and be prepared to pull the skin taut to allow the clippers to pass over. (Think tendons, the elbow area, etc.) Don't clip through skin tags, scabs, wounds, etc.
Have sharp and professional blades for the best clip!
Immediately after clipping, I like to brush my horse with a super soft natural bristled brush to try and remove most of the tiny stray hairs, which are then invisibly deposited on me. A good rinse following a clip job can help ensure an itch free feeling.
Since you have just bathed your horse and then clipped off all of those hairs, his skin and coat are going to be missing some of those amazing oils that make him shiny and protect his skin. It’s up to you to mimic them and allow them to return naturally. Some folks like to do a deep conditioning treatment here also, just after clipping and before rinsing. I have heard of using mayonnaise (better be able to tolerate the smell), horse conditioners, Shapley's No. 1 Light Oil, liniments, a touch of baby oil to rinse water, and even a hot oil treatment. These are all good options. Use what you know works for your horse, but know that if you need to shampoo your treatment off, it may not be worth the hassle as you are likely to remove most of the good stuff you just put on.
Spritz on, cover with a sheet, rinse off the next day (if you like!)
The mayonnaise trick is one that requires a strong stomach and nose. You basically coat your horse in the stuff, leave it on for an hour or so, and rinse off. The problem with this is that you will likely need to shampoo it off, which can strip the natural oils even more. I have also heard that you can make a mayo rinse with some mayo in a bucket of water and use that. (Still won’t catch me using mayo on my horses, just can’t take the smell!)
A conditioning oil will help your clipped horse shine again!
After clipping, you may have a sensitive horse. Any true white hairs will have pink skin underneath, and this skin is typically most sensitive. If you clip super closely to the skin, you will need to figure out some sort of sun and bug protection. Fly boots, sheets and masks are good options here, even if it’s not technically fly season.
Clipped skin may be a smidge more sensitive, so avoid using stiff brushes, hard curry combs, and shampoos for a while until the hair has come in a little. One great benefit of clipping a horse is the ease in which you can groom - so take advantage of this, and enjoy how spiffy it makes your horse look!!
How do you condition and care for a freshly clipped horse!