A Clipping Challenge

I had to clip a horse this week who’s quite tricky to do. I can’t fault her in that she stands still the whole time. Though she does try to eat the clippers when I’m doing her chin and she can fidget for her face.

The problem I have with her is that she’s very sensitive to heat, and as soon as the blades start to get warm she gets heat lines across her body.

So it’s a bit of a race against time for me, to start on her neck and then do the fiddly bits around her ears before progressing to her body and trying to get as much done as possible before the blades heat up.

I’ve got Lister Legend clippers, which are professional grade and, touch wood, they work well for me, but I do find their blades tend to get hot.

With this heat sensitive horse, I use fresh blades and oil them well before I start. Oh, I also make sure the air filter is as clean as possible and brush out the head so that there’s no possible excuse of friction or poor air flow. I probably over oil the clippers, in an attempt to keep the temperature down. When they do get hot, I turn them off and leave them touching to cool concrete for a few minutes. Sometimes I take the blades apart to cool both blades quicker. Then, oiled up, I go again. Usually I manage to finish the full clip with the minimal of heat lines, and they disappear within a couple of hours. It does make it harder to see if I’ve missed any hairs, and can also make my clip look uneven, which is really embarrassing. However, the owner is aware of her mare’s sensitivity and I can always go back if I have missed anything.

It got me thinking though, is this a common problem; what are other people’s techniques to keeping blades cool; and has any research been done on the temperatures of blades whilst clipping?

My first port of call was Google, and it does seem that Lister clippers can let the blades get hotter than other manufacturers. Which is a shame, because otherwise they’re a very good set of clippers.

Suggestions of preventing blades from overheating include:

  • Using the correct oil for the blades rather than sprays, which tend to dry out the blades and increase the friction. I only use the R30 oil that Lister recommends.
  • Oil the blades frequently whilst clipping. I could do it more often, but do try to do it more frequently. It’s just easy to get carried away finishing off an area or perfecting a line.
  • Check you’ve got the correct tension on the blades. Lister recommends tightening the screw as far as possible and then unscrewing it one and a half turns. Which I do, but perhaps next time I’ll have a play around with the tension while the blades are running and see if I can hear a difference in the running of the blades.
  • Poorly sharpened blades or blunt blades can also cause overheating. I use a good, well-renowned company and blades only do a couple of full clips or half a dozen half clips, being sent away for sharpening before they even show signs of being blunt.
  • Having the correct type of blade for a horse’s coat will mean the clippers cut more effortlessly so will be less likely to get hot. I have a collection of fine and normal blades, which suit the majority of horses that I clip. The cobs, Cushings sufferers, and heavy coated horses have normal blades, and I also have some coarse blades for any manes or feathers that I have to do.

Others also leave them to cool or take them apart to expose as much metal as possible to the cooler air. I think the only real thing I could improve on is the tension. But then, as the rest of the horses I clip don’t react in the same way as the mare this week I have to presume that she is particularly sensitive to temperature.

I couldn’t find any research about the temperature of blades and different clippers whilst clipping. I guess it will only be independent researchers who do such an experiment, but if anything is done it would be interesting to see the results, and whether different makes of clippers are better and keeping the heat at bay.

Let me know if you come across any research! In the meantime, hopefully these ideas will help you keep your clipper blades cool.

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2 thoughts on “A Clipping Challenge

  1. Tori December 5, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    My mare looks like she’s been beaten after clipping, coming up in huge weals and requires large amounts of sedation to be clipped. I think that it’s the oil she is reacting to rather than the heat of the blades as she reacts to oil based products like fly repellent etc but could be wrong.

    • therubbercurrycomb December 6, 2017 / 9:00 pm

      Oh that sucks! You must feel so guilty. One horse I ride came out in like hives one year. I did the first clip, a blanket, but I think his back still got hot and he was slightly overrugged which caused heat bumps. Then when his owner clipped him he came out in a huge rash.
      Think she’s solved the problem now by using proper oil and not rugging him too much.

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