Hairy horse time again, and just when you go to fire up the clippers after a summer of little use, there is nothing more frustrating to find they don’t work, or are making funny noises. Worse still, if they stop midway through a clip, or the blades appear to start chewing the coat for no apparent reason, leaving a horse partly clipped or looking rather moth eaten.
Whilst we can offer trouble shooting advice to hopefully get the clippers going, more often than not they will have to come into the workshop for a strip down, clean out and repair.
However, with a bit of thought and forward planning, this need not be the case. Clippers, trimmers, and clipping equipment really do need to be kept in a dry place when not in use. Leaving outside in a damp tack room or shed will definitely not help and we do find this to be the main cause of problems after a few months of not being used.
Forward plan and send clippers in for a service in advance so that you are all set to go as soon as the coats start to turn.
Blades can go blunt quite quickly, but generally we work on around three full clips per hunter size if the coat is clean. This is just a rough guide, as some people can get more out of a set of blades than others. Equally a set can go blunt virtually straight away if debris is left in the coat. A good tip is to wash and dry the horse before clipping which not only makes it easier, the blades last longer, but also the clip will look so much better too.
If a new machine is required it’s worth doing a bit of research now, rather than leaving it as a last minute purchase. Clippers, if looked after, should last a good few years and are an expensive item, so being ill advised or buying in a rush is not a good idea!
There are now so many makes and sizes of clippers available, it does make it difficult to choose particularly if you are new to clipping and haven’t use or owned a set of clippers before.
We strongly suggest speaking with a specialist retailer, who understands both the performance and handling of clippers but also can ask you specific questions about your requirements. There is absolutely no point buying a heavy duty set of clippers if you have just one horse or pony to clip, as you will be lumbering yourself with more power and weight than you really do need.
With the ability to shop on the internet, it is easy to price compare, but do be careful, and make sure you ring the supplier to check exactly what you are getting before making a purchase.
Clippers are an expensive outlay, it really isn’t worth buying on price alone, it can turn into a false economy as quite often the cheaper clippers may not be as powerful as required. Many new brands are appearing and are manufactured to less exacting standards as the known European and UK brands. Again it is worth researching and if in doubt, speak with a knowledgeable clipper specialist for further advice on all of the brands. It is also worth asking if spares are available and how easy a machine is to repair.
Also do be realistic and honest with your requirements. If you have a yard full of horses to clip on a regular basis throughout the winter months, then look at heavy duty machines that will stand up to the work. If you are a one horse owner, then a light or medium duty clipper may well be sufficient. It is no good expecting a £99.00 clipper being able to fulfill multiple horse clipping needs.
A guide to the type of clippers available falls into four categories:
Light Duty, Medium Duty, Heavy Duty and lastly Re-chargeable.
Light duty clippers are designed to clip maybe one complete horse or for part clips, generally coping only with the shorter, fine coats. This type of clipper is really a very large trimmer with a wide blade on it. They are generally very quiet and particularly good for use on young or difficult horses. Generally they come with “snap on” blades, which are easy to fit and require no tensioning. This system is also used by vets and in the dog grooming world. There are many grades of blades available to choose from which can be useful too.
The Medium duty range of clippers is the most popular range, and appeals to the majority of private horse owners that require up to 3 or 4 animals to be clipped on a regular basis. These clippers take conventional blades which have to be tensioned, and can usually cope with virtually all types of hair. Most machines are supplied with a medium set of blades, but finer or coarser blades are available as a separate purchase if the coat or the finish needs to be closer or coarse.
Most machines in this category are reasonably easy to hold, although there are some that are slightly narrower in the body or shaped.
The Heavy duty machines, are designed to be used for more commercial purposes, i.e. larger yards, where they may have to clip upwards of four or more horses a day or over a concentrated period. The motors are more powerful and designed for regular heavy work. This however can make the machine noisy, and the hand piece can be quite heavy. Recently some clipper manufacturers have taken this on board and there are a couple of models that are now much the same weight as the medium duty clippers, and handle really well too. The Heiniger Xperience and Liveryman Black Beauty are two relatively new models to look consider.
Re-chargeable clippers. These are powered by a battery and normally attach to a belt or clip onto a waistband. If access to power is limited or no mains power is available this would be the best option. These types of clippers are also good for difficult and young horses as there are no trailing leads for feet and legs to get tangled up in.
Normally there is a time limit for use when using a battery powered clipper but with the more recently designed power packs, most are able to give up to 3 hours of work time, which is normally quite sufficient for clipping or part clipping a couple of horses at a time.
With these machines, some models can also be used off a mains supply of power. For example the Lister Liberty, the Liveryman Black Beauty and the Liveryman Harmony Plus – these all have conversion kits and the ability to be plugged into the mains, giving total flexibility and continual power if needed.
Most manufacturers include good clear instructions within their packaging, but it is worth mentioning that the blade tensioning instructions for each type of machine are adhered to. Each brand of machine has a different tensioning method and as the majority of clipping problems can be tension related, it is imperative to tension correctly to get the blades to cut properly.
We also suggest using proper clipper oil, and not the “3 in 1” type. Clipper oil has been especially formulated for this type of use and has a very light density, which will enable sufficient lubrication without getting the blades too thick with oil.
We have produced our own clipper oil which is particularly good for sensitive skins and contains essential oils of Lavender, mineral oil and bactericide to prevent cross infection.
Lastly, with regard to blades getting hot, this will occur as metal against metal will always cause heat, but by oiling at least every 10 minutes as well as maintaining the correct tension this will help. However, it best to keep a spare set of blades handy to change across to if they do become too hot or you don’t have time to wait until they cool down. We always recommend a second set of blades as an essential requirement, so that there is a completely cold set ready to clip the head and sensitive areas, and also in the event that blades go blunt in the middle of a clip, which can be extremely frustrating!
Finally, if you are using clippers that are connected to a mains supply it is best to use a circuit breaker for you and your horses’ safety. NEVER EVER dip electrical equipment into any liquids like diesel, petrol and water!
Article written and photos provided by:
Victoria Goody, Sales and Marketing Director, Clippersharp Ltd. Southwoods Farm, Culmstock, Devon EX15 3JX Tel: 01823 681076 www.clippersharp.com