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Has your horse turned into a furry beast?

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Which clippers do what and which clippers do you need? A guide to finding the right clippers for the job

Nothing more frustrating than taking your clippers out of the box to find they don’t work, or to start clipping and watch dull blades chewing up your horse’s coat.

It’s a good idea to check out existing equipment and blades, and ensure all are in good working order before you have your horse standing and ready to be clipped. If there is any doubt about their performance, now is the time to send them away for repair, servicing or blade sharpening.

If it is time to invest in a new set of clippers, it’s worth doing a bit of research. If looked after thoughtfully, clippers should last many years. As they are an expensive piece of equipment, buying a set that doesn’t suit your needs could haunt you for years!

Do your research

A google search for horse clippers will return lots of sites offering machines at various price points. Call the seller with questions before making an online purchase, as this will give you a good indication on how knowledgeable they are about the products.

If in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly and they will be able to put you in touch with a reputable dealer. Going through a recommended dealer can also be a good contact for servicing, blade sharpening and other accessories you may need in the future.

A good retailer will ask you questions about how much clipping you need to do in a season, including the number of animals and type of coats that will be clipped regularily. They will then be able to recommend the most appropriate machine for your use. While price is is an important consideration, a less expensive light duty machine may not stand up to clipping a yard full of horses!

Clippers fall into four categories: Light duty, medium duty, heavy duty and re-chargeable

Light duty

Light duty clippers are designed to clip maybe one complete horse or for doing 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.

Medium duty

The medium duty range of clippers is the most popular range, and appeals to the majority of private horse owners that require up to three or four 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. These also tend to be slightly lighter to hold over a lengthy period of time, and are generally favoured by users that have small hands.

Heavy duty

The Heavy duty machines are designed to be used for more commercial purposes, 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 constant, heavy work. This however can make the machine noisy and the hand piece can be quite heavy. However, recently some 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, but are actually heavy duty and handle really well too.


Re-chargeable clippers are the final category to look into. These are powered by a battery and normally attached 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.

This type of machine is also good for difficult and young horses and is the safest means of clipping moving animals as a lead is not going to get in the way or trodden on.

Relying on a battery for power, there is normally a time limit for use, but with more recently designed battery packs, most are able to give a clipping time up to 3 hours, 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 has a mains conversion kit, which can be bought to convert from battery to mains use. This gives total flexibility and continual power if needed.

It’s worth noting that the use of generators is not recommended with clippers, as it is not a constant power, and can cause long-term problems to the clipper armature (motor).

Oils, coolants and instructions

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

It is also critical that proper clipper oil is used, and not ‘3 in 1′ oils. Clipper oil has a very light density, which will enable sufficient lubrication without getting the blades too thick with grease.

When metal is working against metal, friction levels are high and as a result there will always be heat generating. Oiling, using a blade coolant, and making sure the blades are correctly tensioned will help reduce the level of heat to the blades.

We always recommend clipper owners invest in a second set of blades 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!

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 dip electrical equipment into any liquids like diesel, petrol or water!

For more information about clipper sales and servicing, visit www.clippersharp.com

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