In collaboration with NAF Equine
There are several factors that come into play if you want to achieve an even and satisfying finish when clipping.
I always underline that I prefer the horse being washed and groomed to perfection with the coat in mind when clipping, for me to achieve the best possible finish, and that is often enough for the owner to understand my point. A newly washed horse helps to achieve an even and satisfying finish, as the machine and the blades are not burdened by cutting through grease, dust and small sand grains. Clipping a dirty and greasy dense coat takes longer, the sweat clog up in the machine and the blades will be unsharpened faster whereas the clipper will cut effortlessly through a dense coat, the blades last longer and the clip being satisfying when washed before clip.
I recommend a through use of a curry comp or e.g. grooming gloves with scrubbing nodules for removal of as much grease and dust as possible before a deep cleansing shampoo bath. I personally use the NAF Teatree & Mint Shampoo. This shampoo has been formulated with teatree for its natural antibacterial properties to gently soothe the skin whilst it cleanses and degreases. I use the curry comp to apply the shampoo in the coat and to make sure that I apply the shampoo well into the coat and onto the skin to remove as much sweat, grease and dirt as possible. If you aim to clip the head as well, make sure to wash or towel it over as well. Avoid water in the eyes and ears. If the horse can be washed in the head with a soft jet, you can soap in the head with a soft sponge first. If the horse definitely does not want to be washed in the head, you should only use a hot wet sponge or wet towel with a very limited amount of shampoo, as it may be difficult to get out again if the horse does not find it the most comfortable experience. After applying the shampoo, I use a sweat scraper to remove as much excess shampoo before rinsing through over. This makes it easier to get all the shampoo residue over out of the coat which is so important.
Washing before clip ensures the best possible finish, but it can also be an advantage to wash or towel over the horse after being clipped. Some may think it’s a bit overrated, but it’s often a really good idea.
Firstly, I do sometimes find that the horse has a skin infection or mild skin irritation when I clip trough the coat. It can be lumps, bumps or rash in the saddle area, girth area or in the areas where the horse sweats a lot. It might be because the rider has not been able to or thorough enough to groom, wash and maintain the horse’s coat through the fall and winter season due to the dense and growth of the coat, or the rider might not have paid attention to the fluctuation in the temperature leaving the horse to sweat or damp underneath the rug on the warmer days, or that the rider has been too fast to put on the rug after the training session leaving the horse to dry under a rug without proper absorbing feature leaving a skin infection to thrived during the rug-season.
Secondly, who wants to put on a clean rug on a horse with a lot of excess hair. By washing or towel over the horses after a clip you get rid of all the loose hair, which your horse thanks you for.
I personally use the NAF Love the SKIN he is in Skin Wash. I mix 1 capful in 5 liter of warm water, soak the NAF Deep Cleansing Towel in the water, wring out until just damp and use a circular motion to work firmly into the coat. The skin wash is a gentle unique blend of herbal ingredients including Aloe Vera designed to help support damaged or challenged skin affected by lumps, bumps, rashes or mild irritations. You might also have been unlucky to cut into small wounds that have not been visible under the coat when you clipped the legs. The wash ans Aloe Vere aims to soothe delicate or irritated skin with a cleansing effect. If at the same time the horse should react negatively to the clipper oil, then the wash can minimize the chance of an allergic reaction. When toweled over leave the skin to dry before putting on the rug or use a solarium to speed up the drying process.
It is always common sense to take of the rug every day to make sure that the skin breathes optimally and if possible, leave the horse without a rug for about 30-60 minutes if the temperature in the stable allows. If the horse tense to have dry skin or itch duo to the rug apply skin wash every second or third day to support healthy skin especially when challenged by seasonal reactions.
As a professional groom, I am also very aware about cleaning my machines and blades in relation to the transfer of any bacteria. My machines and blades are cleaned with hygienic spray from barn to barn and from horse to horse – to prevent spreading of skin infection e.g. in the form of mud fever or dermatophilosis, just as I always disinfect my hands with hand cleansing gel, for optimal hygiene. Hereby I do my utmost to avoid the spread of bacteria when clipping.