Saturday, November 9, 2013

Clipping, it's like temporary tattoos for ponies!

Fall clipping is quite a process for me. First there's decided what kind of clip to do. Then, I have to try to figure out when I should clip. Finally, I have to get all my tools in working order and together. Here's how I solved all my issues this year: 

What kind of clip?
Not clipping really isn't an option for me. Winter is when Guinness and I do a large portion of our training, and with cold temperatures and late, dark nights plaguing me the whole time, clipping is 100% necessary to keep Pig comfortable and dry. However, Guinness does live outside 24/7 and temperatures in central Indiana can get pretty cold, so a full body clip is a little extreme. With all of this in mind, I decided to stick with a trace clip this year. Last year's clip was a huge success, so I wanted something pretty similar.
(I did decide to stick to a more traditional trace clip silhouette, as opposed to last year's crazy outline. This was mainly due to Pig not shedding out until literally DAYS before our first show in early May, and me losing sleep over showing up in the show ring with that freak show of a clip job.)

In order to keep my creative side happy, I decided that I would clip into Pig's flank a fun little version of the Guinness beer harp logo. This was really pretty fun, but difficult to manage the delicate bits with only a hefty set of 2" blades to try to do it with. I ended up getting carried away, and shaved off the whole inside, forgetting to try to leave "strings" on the harp. Whoops! Here's a close up of the result: 
I like to think of this as my "Art Deco" interpretation of the logo. I've been calling it "Pig's temporary tattoo."
When to clip? 
This is probably the toughest part of clipping for me. I'm looking for perfection, and in an Indiana autumn that is a near impossibility. First, I like to wait until late fall when Pig's coat is starting to really get fluffy. I don't want to clip too early and have to repeat more than once in winter. Once I feel like his coat is ready, I start the search for perfection. I'm looking for:
1. A warm enough day to do a full bath without risking a severe chill for either myself or Guinness.
2. A day when I can take off from work, so most of the bathing can be done early while the sun is up. This also saves me from being at the barn until after 10pm.

For me that day turned out to be the last Thursday in October. In the forecast, it looked like it would be a nice day with temperatures in the mid to upper 60s, with temperatures falling that night. Work wasn't slammed, so I went ahead and scheduled a day off!

Of course, no amount of planning can make anything perfect. That day ended up filled with heavy rain from morning until night and hovering around 58 degrees. Guinness thought I was completely crazy for even trying to get him more wet while it was raining. We got it done without chills or sickness, though. Hooray layering! 

How to gather all the tools?
For the average horse owner, this isn't too tough. Make sure all your clipper blades are sharpened and in good shape and you have shampoo and show sheen. BOOM. Done. But, let me remind you of this little flinging incident from last year. That changed my tool list for this year:
• Clippers, sharp blades, cooling/lubricating spray
• Shampoo, conditioner or showsheen
• Sharpie (for drawing on my clipping pattern)
• Cooler (for helping Pig to stay warm and dry faster)
• A change of clothes for me (especially important because of the downpours)
• Drugs 

I only ran into a couple of snags getting all this together. First of all, after last year's clip jobs, my clipper blade wouldn't snap all the way into place, and the lever that makes the blade move wouldn't seat in. That made my clippers a whirring, but pointless, machine. Uh oh!

After taking a whole Saturday afternoon to figure out what was going on, I finally got to the base of the problem. It turns out that during his ticklish fits last year, Guinness managed to mess up the seats for the screws that hold the blade hinge to the clippers. It was an easy (if frustrating!) fix, and everything was good to go on that end. 

Finally to keep my clippers (and my legs!) from getting damaged this year, I decided to drug Guinness a bit. My vet dropped the drugs on the week before I decided to clip. We used Dormosedan gel. It was really easy, inexpensive, and super effective. If anyone out there needs to drug their horse, I'd highly recommend this stuff. I can't tell you how much I appreciated clipping a stationary horse after last year!

 Overall, the experience was much easier than last year. Here's the result:

A funky stance, but the only photo I managed to get 100% in focus. Oops ... 


9 comments:

  1. Love the harp! He's such a cutie!

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  2. Love it!! I am going to be clipping my horse for the first time (both of us are clip virgins) and I have no ideal anything, glad to read that you use Sharpie to do the design outline (was personally wondering if chalk would work but I have lots of sharpies!)

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    1. Chalk works too, especially on a dark horse! I've also used tape to mark the basic lines and starting points. The main key is to go slow, breathe, and take plenty of breaks to check your progress. Another helpful hint is to use a saddle pad to check how even your lines are on each side (if you're doing a trace clip, like me).

      Good luck!

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  3. Very nice! I love creative clip jobs. :)

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    1. I saw your clip job the other day. Very lovely! Such furry creatures you have!

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  4. I'm also clipping my horse for the first time this year, and I eagerly read everyone's clipping tips!

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    Replies
    1. Lots of first timers! Check out my reply to L. Williams above for even more tips. Good luck!

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