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Coat Care at Clipping time

Vicky Goody

It’s getting to the winter woolly time of year for our horses and ponies.  If they can keep their natural coats for the duration of the winter, then clippers won’t be needed.  However, those that are kept fit and in work during the winter months will almost certainly be clipped several times during the winter season.

To make clipping as easy as possible for both owner and animal, here are a few points to help you on your way:

1.      Check your clippers and trimmers in good time prior to needing to clip.  Turn them on and check that they are running smoothly.

2.     Have a look at the blades, and if you are unsure if you put them away without being sharpened then send them in so that they are sharp and ready to go.

3.     Refresh your clipping knowledge with a quick read through of instructions regarding correct tension and type of blade to use.  Selecting the right grade of blade for the coat and finish that you require, will ensure the end look is smooth and line free.  Ensuring the right tension is applied to the blades is also important, both with getting a good finish but also to make sure the blades don’t get too hot.

4.     Check that you have plenty of clipper oil to hand, we cannot stress enough, just how important it is to oil blades every 5 to 10 minutes during use.  This not only keeps the blades running correctly, which in turn generates less heat, but also can keep the blades sharper for longer.  It might be useful to consider clipping oil which has a bactericide added to prevent cross infection if the same blades are being used on different horses.

5.     Lastly, preparing the horse with a good groom or body wash before clipping will really help give a great finish.  If the coat is greasy the blades will struggle to get through the extra grease as well as the hair, and in doing so will leave lines where the teeth have worked hard to get through.

6.     A quick spray over with Gloss n Go prior to clipping helps blades glide through a thick, dry coat and will make clipping so much easier.

7.     A good wash after will really help to take the clipper oil residue and remaining grease out of the coat.  Lavender Splosh Wash is a refreshing and relaxing wash which will lift any oil or grease effectively as well as leaving the coat super soft.  Alternatively, hot clothing with hot water and a dash of Super Shine lotion is great for a super shiny after clip finish.

Featured products:  Gloss n Go (Pre-clip spray),  Lavender Splosh wash for before and after clip wash.  Super Shine Lotion – as a hot wash for a super shiny finish.  Clippersharp Bactericide Clipper oil – particularly good for sensitive skinned horses.

Tame that Mane!

Vicky Goody

Tame the Mane

Mane pulling is a controversial topic.  There are several different ways to tidy a mane, either humanely using thinning rakes, scissors, razors, old clipper blades to name a few, or the traditional way with a metal mane comb.

If I was a horse I would definitely prefer the former if given the choice.  Let’s look at both options and then it’s for you and your horse to decide.

Traditional pulling – this is the established way of keeping a mane thinned and at a tidy length to brush and plait when needed.  The only tool required is a short metal mane comb.  I find the ones with a wooden handle the easiest to use.  To start with, brush the mane through so there are no knots.  Then begin at the top and work down, or at the bottom and work up.  However, either end of the mane is the most sensitive place for the horse, so you may find some resistance, even with the most placid of horses. 

To start with take a small section of mane, about half the width of the mane comb and back comb leaving some long strands, these bits you need to twist round the comb and pull out. Repeat this all the way down, or all the way up the mane until you have thinned and shortened it to the level needed.

It’s always best to make sure the horse is warm and exercised before pulling which will then mean the hair should come out more easily and be less harsh for them.  If there is a lot of resistance, or the horse has not had this done before, spread it out over a period of days, to make it easier and less traumatic. 

Humane tidying – If this is done with care, the result looks the same, and the horse feels no discomfort, so a “win, win” situation in my book.  Having used both methods over the years, I now only use this way.  Practice will perfect the finish, but it’s easy once you get the knack!

This is how I do it.  If you have a very thick mane to deal with, brush it over to the wrong side making sure there are no tangles.  Get yourself a Smart Manes thinning rake, or the narrower Smart Tails rake for tails is equally good.  Use the medium or medium/coarse grade and literally just brush down as if you were brushing with a brush.  Go carefully as they do take out a considerable amount in a very short time.  Once you have the mane at the thickness you require, brush back over. 

Now the next bit will take some practice, but if you are used to pulling the traditional way you will find that this is virtually the same technique.  Backcomb from the top leaving a few long bits like you have when you pull the usual way, and then instead of pulling these out, just get a pair of normal scissors and cut.  This may fill you with horror, but I promise it won’t look cut – just refer to our videos to see what I am doing!  Continue down the mane and this will create your level finish, leaving the mane thinned and neat and tidy.

If you have a thin, long mane to deal with, ignore the first part of the instructions, as it won’t need thinning, and just do the shortening method.  The other tool that could be used with thin manes are the razor combs, again use in the same way, back combing and then razor to cut the length.

Once the mane is tidy, thinned and at an acceptable length, keep it in good condition by regular washing and conditioning.  A spray in detangler and conditioner is a quick way to keep in good shape and easy to brush through, “Tame the Mane” is perfect, as it not only conditions allowing the brush to glide through, but it also takes the frizz out too, and keeps it laying down nicely.  This is particularly good if you are dealing with the more natural finish that traditional and M&M’s and other native breeds dictate.

 

 

Trimming and tidying for tip top turnout

Vicky Goody

A few tips to help you produce your horse neat and tidy ready for the show ring.

If you are intending to plait your horse on a regular basis, it is a good idea to have a reasonably short mane to do this with as otherwise you will end up with huge “golf ball” size plaits which do no justice at all to the overall turnout.

If you are going to pull a mane, it can be quite uncomfortable for the horse, so to make it as bearable as possible, ensure the horse has been exercised first and he is warm which will allow the pores of skin to be soft and more open, this will help with the removal of the hair.

You will really need to leave around 3 - 5” of mane, so looking at the overall picture, start at either the bottom or top depending which you find easiest. Take hold of the long straggly hairs and back comb and then twist around the metal comb and then pull sharply.  Don’t take too much at a time, its quicker and easier in the long term to take small bits.  Continue along until you have a level finish.

If the horse objects violently to this, there are more humane methods of thinning out a thick mane.  You can use a “Smart Manes” tool which you use on the wrong side – brush mane over with a brush on to the wrong side and then just comb the Smart Manes through the hair evenly, this just thins it all through and then you can make it level by brushing back on to the “right” side and then backcombing and cutting with scissors or a thinning knife, alternatively an old clipper blade will also do a good job of cutting and levelling a few long hairs.

Once the mane is tidy, damp it down with a water brush and leave to settle.  If the mane and crest is very thick don’t pull the mane too short otherwise it will just stick up.  If the mane is long and very thin, its best to make it shorter using a razor comb or thinning knife, or cut with scissors.  Although it might seem a bit drastic to take scissors to a mane, it can be done in such a way that it doesn’t look cut by back combing as normal to leave the long straggly bit to pull, but instead of pulling it out, just cut and repeat all the way along.  This will give you a UK traditional pulled look.  If you are trimming for the European market, then the look is more of a straight cut finish to the mane, so it remains totally straight with the more precise “cut” look.

Other areas for trimming include under the jaw, ears whiskers and the feathers down the backs of the legs.

Trim with care, as this depends on the breed and what classes you are intending to do.  Most M&M classes will allow a certain amount of “careful” trimming, which means taking as little away as possible.  It’s best to check with the breed society first before doing anything drastic!

For other show classes, most expect a certain amount of tidying – this would include trimming with either scissors or a small trimmer under the jaw to make a straight tidy jaw line.  Trimming the edge of the ears to give definition.  (Try not to clip inside the ears, as you really won’t lose marks for this and it only fair on the horse during the summer to give them protection from flies and bugs).  Whiskers may also need to be removed – using a razor for this purpose is a good way and safer than scissors! 

We also find that using a razor such as an Equi-shave, the coronet band and soft leg hair can be swiftly and neatly tidied without the bother of using trimmers.

You may also like to trim a bridle path which is just behind the ears and makes it easy to keep a neat area to place the headpiece of the bridle on.  Lastly looking down the legs, some animals grow excessive amounts of hair which can make the legs look rather coarse, and with a bit of trimming or clipping depending on how much needs to be removed, can totally transform the appearance of a horse from a rather plain looking cob into a very smart hunter.

If you are tidying legs, try to use a trimmer with add on plastic combs and clip downwards, this will mean that you won’t get a jagged look, and is very quick and easy to do.  For lots of hair on heavy cobs, you may have to use a full size clipper and again, you can clip downwards to give a smooth finish.

Lastly for tails – again depending on what classes you are entering – most ridden classes except M&M’s would usually be pulled.  This means removing all the bushiness around the top third of the tail leaving neatness and definition which also shows off the quarters.

Again, there are different ways to achieve this look – you can go down the traditional root of pulling using a mane comb or finger and thumb with rubber gloves on.  If you do this over several days and incorporate it as part of the grooming session, the horse will not be sore and will tolerate it more readily.  If you don’t want to cause any discomfort but still want the “pulled” tail finish, then use a Smart Tails, tail rake to comb down through the sides of the tail and this will thin it out and give it a very tidy show ring finish within minutes and your horse won’t even know its been done.

For a pulled tail, work your way down the side down as far as the end of the dock, or a bit higher if you don’t want to go that far down.  Damp the tail and tail bandage, to keep it in shape.  Remove bandage after an hour or so and check, and then make final touches as necessary.

For the final finish make sure the tail is cut squarely at the bottom and finished to the right length.  If it is thick then use a set of clippers to cut across the bottom, it is so much easier than struggling with scissors.

To get the correct height, get a friend to put a showing cane, or piece of hose under the tail to lift it to the height your horse would normally carry his tail.  Then cut the end of the tail square at about an inch below the hock but again, the length is dictated by the class or type of activity the horse or pony will be either competing or working in.

Ensure the tail is conditioned well which will then help with keeping it in tip top condition and easy to brush through by either using a spray or wash in conditioner.  Avoid brushing the bottom half of the tail without thoroughly conditioning first as precious long hairs will be lost very quickly.