Clipping for a Show

ArticleHow to - General Equine AdviceThursday 19 January 2012

When showing your horse, doing a proper clipping job can be one of the most important ways to make him look his best.

Many people leave show grooming to the last minute.  When clipping a horse for a show, it is important to think ahead.  It takes about a week for any clipper marks to grow out enough to be unnoticeable, so show clipping should always be completed at least a week before the show.

Start out with the head.  There are several things that should be trimmed to make a horse’s face as refined and beautiful as possible.  First of all, you need to trim the excess hair from under the jowl.  While in the summer, many horses are sleek, during the fall and spring seasons, the shaggy hair below the jowl can be quite unsightly.  Pointing the clippers so that the teeth are perpendicular to the cheek, gently run your clippers down the cheek towards the jowl. This will catch any cat hairs and shaggy coat without clipping down to the skin.

Under the jaw, clip the coat tight to the jaw line.  Make sure that the edges are even, or your horse will wind up with a ragged look.  Trim the hair down towards the chin, removing the long hairs that snug up against the chin.

Generally you should not need to trim any hair on the rest of the face.  The whiskers will need to be trimmed, but they can wait until the day before the show.  The eye whiskers can be trimmed too, but should be left at least half an inch long as they are the eye’s primary protection against damage in the dark.

To trim the ears, fold them gently in half so that the inside hair sticks out.  Trim along the edge of the ear, removing the inner hair that sticks out.  Unless it is necessary for your breed or discipline, avoid trimming out the inner hair as it is an essential protection against flies in the summer.

The bridle paths should be trimmed with scissors before using the clippers.  For most horses, a 2” long bridle path is adequate.  Some breeds require longer bridle paths, so check your breed’s standards to know how long it should be.

Clip the bridle path as tight to the neck as possible.  You will probably want to repeat the clipping from both sides of the neck to make sure that you don’t miss any hairs.  Avoid the temptation to trim a little further each time as you will soon wind up with a bridle path that is too long and looks terrible.  The bridle path can be trimmed again just before the show if necessary.

Another area that often requires trimming is the fetlock.  This will probably only need to be done a couple of times a season, but does make a big difference in how a horse looks in the ring.  Following the direction of the hair, clip down the fetlock, around the joint.  Do not clip the front.  Picking up the foot, trim the hair up the back of the pastern, towards the ergot.  Remove the ergot if it has gotten long.

Finally, if your horse has decent hooves, you will want to boot up your horse.  This is done by clipping the excess hair around the coronet band.  Clip each section upwards from the hoof, just catching the hairs that hang over the coronet.  Be sure to go all the way around the hoof, catching the inner hairs as well as the outer hairs.

No matter what breed or discipline you show, make sure that you check the standards before you go ahead and clip.  Some breeds specialize in long fetlocks or shaggy faces.  It would be a terrible faux-pas to arrive with a neatly trimmed horse only to be confronted with a ring full of shaggy beauties.

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