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GoPro – part five: Tips & tricks on clipping from the world’s best grooms

Thursday, 27 August 2020
Tips & Tricks

How can you best care for your horse? World of Showjumping asked several highly experienced grooms to share their tips & tricks. In the fifth part of this series, the focus is on dos and don’ts when it comes to clipping. 

Denise Moriarty, long-time groom for Kent Farrington:

Photo © World of Showjumping Denise Moriarty. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Clipping I do as needed. I try as much as possible to let the horses grow their spring and summer coats so they do not have to be clipped as often.

Some tips: 

* Don’t clip a horse that has just arrived to Florida, it will get skin irritations!

* Don’t clip if you are in a bad mood or angry, it won’t be enjoyable for anyone!

* Don’t clip a dirty horse!

* Don’t get in a fight with the horse, take a break or finish it the next day.

* Do make sure someone knows you are clipping, especially if clipping after work or in an empty barn. Anything can happen, even with the good ones. A kick, a knee to the head, being knocked backwards off the ladder could leave you unconscious with no one to check on you.

* Do change your blades – no horse is going to stand still for hot blades.”

Kay Neatham, former long-time groom for Marcus Ehning:

Photo © World of Showjumping Kay Neatham. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Clipping is something I think nearly ever groom could write a book about. 

A few simple rules: 

* Do it as little as possible and as often as necessary.

* Don’t clip with hot blades. 

* Get everything ready before you start – oil for clippers, change of blades, extension lead, bench to stand on, towel, blanket to throw over the horses quarters if cold, dandy brush and then just get the job done, there is nothing worse than turning the machine off every 10 minutes to answer a phone or look for something. For the sake of the horse, just clip, focus on the job in hand.”

Jenny Ducoffre, long-time groom for Jos Verlooy:

Photo © World of Showjumping Jenny Ducoffre. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Clipping for sure makes life easier for us as we spend every week somewhere different, with various climates and temperatures, or late nights with jump-offs and stressful prize givings, horses that after-sweat or take long to cool down. 

During the long show break we just had, I found it nice to let their summer coat come through and they all looked amazing. However, we do work with a large number of horses and to groom a longer coat takes time when you want to make sure that it is 100% clean and dry.... So after eight weeks – feeling like 20 weeks – I decided to clip them all again and they all turned out fantastic. 

I always try to have my horses washed before I clip them, so the day before I just shampoo wash them with Head&Shoulders, which makes their hair so soft and prevents dry skin. This way, the clipping is so much more comfortable for the horses. The blades don’t get stuck and you sure don’t have to push hard to get the hair off. After I clipped, I give them a good brush and make a bucket with very warm water, vinegar and show sheen in and towel the horse.”

Sean Vard, long-time groom for Martin Fuchs:

Photo © World of Showjumping Sean Vard. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I tend to not clip at all out of show season, or like during the Covid-19 break, but during the busy show weeks I like the horses to be sharp looking and well turned out. However, I will never clip a horse just before a travel to a show. I will try to clip maybe a week in advance to let the coat puff out a bit so they don’t look too raw at the show. I take my time with clipping and never rush it, as giving a horse a bad experience is something that will never leave their heads in the future. I clip only with the battery clipper Saphir from Heiniger Switzerland. This combined with the wider blades 1.5mm does the finest job.”

Fran Callan, long-time groom for Jur Vrieling:

Photo © World of Showjumping Fran Callan. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I am very fortunate that my team at home are a lot more on the clipping than me. Being away so much actually doesn’t give me so much time to clip, but if I get the chance I do enjoy doing the odd one or two. 

I love the Heiniger Saphir clippers with the T-10 blade. We use Heiniger clippers for everything at home. They leave no lines and I also find you clip quicker with them. It’s smooth and quiet for the horses.”

Morgane Tresch, long-time groom for Jeroen Dubbeldam:

Photo © World of Showjumping Morgane Tresch. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“Remember that the hair is the only skin protection on your horse – especially for the flies and the sun... In the summer I don’t really clip the horses; only if it’s necessary. When they are nice in the colour and not too long in the hair I leave them like this. Clipping too much can cause skin reaction and irritation, so after clipping I wash my horse with medium water and baby shampoo on the body and Betadine on the legs just in case they have small cuts. 

In the winter I like to clip my horses, as it with the combination of cold weather and hard work can help them to dry faster if they have been sweating. During the indoor season, it can also be very hot inside the arenas and halls so it is better to have them short in the hair.”

Josie Eliasson, long-time groom for Jessica Springsteen:

Photo © Haide Westring Josie Eliasson. Photo © Haide Westring.

“At the moment I am very lucky as all my horses are very nice to clip, which makes it so much easier. I have had horses in the past that needed sedation and then it is always harder to clip – you need to be fast, they sweat a lot and then you always have to think about clipping early enough before the show because of the medication being positive. 

I had one horse that was just so sensitive in the skin, but otherwise nice to clip, so I felt bad having to sedate her all the time. Someone suggested washing her with baby oil without rinsing it off and then clipping her wet. I tried it and it worked perfectly for that horse.”

Marlen Schannwell, long-time groom for Bertram Allen:

Photo © World of Showjumping Marlen Schannwell. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I try to avoid clipping when the horses change their coats to give them a chance for a natural hair change. It also saves you a few clips during the winter. I like to use show sheen before clipping to keep the blades happy as our horses are going to the field daily and they are never 100% dirt free.

After clipping we rub them with a damp towel that is soaked in botanica wash to prevent skin irritations and the horses get a great natural shine."


Malin Henlöv, former long-time groom for Peder Fredricson, now grooming for Evelina Tovek:

Photo © World of Showjumping Malin Henlöv. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I try to leave clipping for when it’s really necessary. I always try to avoid clipping the horses when they get their summer coat since I think that it gets better if you don’t clip. If they then get a nice summer coat, I never clip during the summer.”

Heidi Mulari, long-time groom for Steve Guerdat:

Photo © World of Showjumping Heidi Mulari. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

”A horse is well clipped when one can’t see the horse is clipped… Clipping a really difficult horse is not a speed challenge. Take your time and think what you did wrong if the horse starts to act up.”

Nickki O’Donovan, long-time groom for Darragh Kenny:

Photo © World of Showjumping Nickki O’Donovan. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I only clip when really necessary. If you clip too often, I think you can make the skin unhealthy and lose that natural shine. If they are not competing often during the winter season, I think it’s best to keep them hairy but trimmed.”

Mel Jobst, long-time groom for Marcus Ehning:

Photo © World of Showjumping Mel Jobst. Photo © Jenny Abrahamsson for World of Showjumping.

“I must say I love to clip the horses if I have the time. But I’m not really clipping them if it’s not necessary. If they have a nice coat, why ruin the nature? If necessary I clip the legs, they are most of the time more hairy. In the wintertime with all the indoor shows it is easier for the horses with short hair, otherwise they are sweating too much and it takes long to get them dry. That increases the risk of illness.”

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