How old were you when you started clipping horses?
I started clipping when I was 15. We had purchased a miniature horse as a companion to one of our quarter horses, but then we changed our boarding situation. We found a miniature horse farm close by and our first mini, "Cowboy," went to live there. I got my start clipping minis at this farm, Pepper Ridge Miniature Horses, then owned by the late Beverly Peterson, and now by her daughter, Carrie Peterson.
Do you show also?
I started showing not long after we moved Cowboy to the miniature horse farm. I picked out a silver dapple mare named Sweetwaters Hot Pants, and with the help of Carrie and BJ, trained her to drive. She was FMHC champion driving horse two years in a row, and 5th in a huge youth country pleasure driving class at our World Championship show in my last year of showing in youth. I also successfully showed my stallion, Lou Gin Dancing in the Rain, and my pride and joy, Showcase Crystal Heart, who I had traded clipping services for. Crystal showed in both halter and liberty classes, was AMHA Amateur High Point mare in the country in 2006, and was 4th in liberty at our World Show out of over 60 horses. This year I am showing a 28" yearling filly who was bred at our farm. Her name is Picture Perfect Irish Love Song and we will participate in the AMHA World Championship show in Fort Worth in October.
What's the hardest coat color to clip?
White is definitely the hardest color, I think, for anyone to clip. If you are not using the right equipment (and sometimes even if you are!), it is very hard to make the lines disappear on a white horse. My best advice for those who can't seem to get a good clip on their white horses is to use a size #10 blade, preferably the Andis Show Edge brand #10s.
What's the easiest color to clip?
Well, most people would not use the words "easy" and "clipping" in the same sentence. However, probably the color that clips the "best," or clips without the look of lines, to me, is a dark, roan-colored horse. There are often so many colors mixed into this type of horse's coat, that if there are any lines left, they are often camouflaged within those colors.
What you consider the hardest part of the horse to clip?
The most time-consuming and intricate part of the miniature horse to clip is by far the horse's head. Several different-sized blades are used to blend and accentuate the horse's individual features. The #50 blade is used on the muzzle and blended up towards the cheeks and eyes, over the eyes, and the ears. A #30 or #15 blade is also used on the forehead and sides of the face. Many horses understandably behave badly for their ears, and sometimes their muzzle, as these are usually the most sensitive areas. A twitch can be used for a short amount of time to calm the horse for ease of clipping these areas. I do, however, suggest that the muzzle be clipped clean BEFORE the twitch is applied, as sometimes the horse is more of a hassle to clip in that area after having the twitch on.
Where do you like to start when clipping the horse?
I like to start clipping the horse in an area which is not going to cause any problems with the horse's behavior. For example, if you start on the horse's head or legs, which is least liked by the horse, you may end up with a naughty horse for the easier, more pleasant areas on the body. I start on one side of the neck and work my way towards the hindquarters, around the back of the horse, and end up on the other side of the neck. I usually then clip the muzzle, just in case I need to use the twitch to clip the legs or head. I then clip the legs, working my way around as a farrier would, from front, to rear, then all the way back to the front. I finish with the head.
Do you have any tips for clipping ears?
You will find that most horses really hate having their ears clipped. And you can probably guess why! There are very few horses I have clipped that I have not had to use a twitch on the muzzle in order to clip their ears. Sometimes having another person to help hold the horse, or hold the opposite ear, can be helpful in getting the ears clipped more quickly and without much fight. The twitch, when used properly, does not hurt the horse, but I suggest not leaving it on the muzzle for more than a 10-minute period of time. Taking the twitch on and off several times will likely just irritate your horse, so I always try to keep the twitch time at a minimum.
I've seen a lot of crooked "V"s. How do you get yours so straight?
Ah, the infamous tail "V!". My best tip I can give for a straight tail arrow, is to run your finger from the horse's withers along the center line of the back, until you reach the height you would like your arrow to reach. The height of the arrow varies among individual preference, but the general idea is to create the illusion of a higher tail set on the miniature. Keep your finger in that center line spot at your desired height, and clip in a diagonal right up.
What kind of clippers do you use?
I get asked this question several times a week from people all over the globe. When Andis asked me to test run some of their body clippers, I was afraid to, because I never thought they would work on the miniature horse hair as thick as it tends to be on most. Hand me a pair of Double K clippers today, and I will probably make a face at you... Not a nice one! I have been using the Andis Excel 5 speed clippers exclusively now for two years. The pain I used to have every day in my arm is no longer there, the horses are calmer with the reduced noise of the Andis clippers, and I find it much easier to maneuver with the smaller size of the Andis clippers. The Andis clippers are extremely lightweight, affordable, quiet, and reliable, and that's why I recommend them to everyone who has horses, big or small!
Does The Clipper Girl come to me? Who can book The Clipper Girl?
Anyone! Sometimes people assume I only service large miniature horse farms, but that is the farthest from the truth. I have traveled to Australia, New Zealand, across the United States (including California), and all over Europe and the UK. I am available for summer clipping, photo shoot clipping, show clipping, clipping clinics and seminars, or just to make your horses look beautiful for your own enjoyment. I clip both miniature horses and full sized horses. I prefer the minis, but October-February, I am local to central Florida, where I am available to travel to local farms for the big horse show circuit. Send me a contact inquiry and let's get you on the calendar!
What's the best blade size for my horse?
Loaded question! Every horse's hair coat, color, and even growth rate is different! In general, I tend to clip lighter color (think palomino, cremello/perlino, light colored buckskins, white, etc) with a longer length blade such as an Andis ShowEdge #10 or Andis UltraEdge/CeramicEdge size #10 or #15. I always make sure my first clip of the year is also with a 10, regardless of color. Stripping the color off too close too early in the year (late winter/early spring) will only make it harder for the hair to grow back with luster and color, from my experience. Darker horses like Roans, blacks, dark buckskins, chestnut, and even pintos can be done also with a size 10, however, a ShowEdge #30 or UltraEdge/CeramicEdge #30 is also a good choice for these colors. Towards the end of show season, for example, the Nationals and the World show, (think, fall) almost all the horses I clip can be done in a size 30 blade all over. This time of year the horses are growing coats like crazy, dark color should be at its peak, and generally, it's pretty safe to use a 30 on most horses at this time when showing.
Do you sharpen your blades?
A Clipper Girl clip has to be 100% perfect! In general, I will sharpen size 10 blades, and also size 40 and 50 blades. In my experience, sharpening a size 30 blade just doesn't make the "cut" as far as resulting in a smooth, like-new-blade look. If you are using CeramicEdge blades, the sharpening process consists of changing out the ceramic piece, so these type of blades should be just fine to send to the sharpener at a cheaper price than buying new. I trust all my sharpening to Bill at Ft Worth Shaver in Texas. Http://www.clipperoutlet.com OR Andis does sharpening at their factory as well, but only on your Andis blades!
How many horses can The Clipper Girl clip in one day?
My all-time record is 23 miniature horses clipped in one day. Yes, I admit, I was tired after that one! Generally speaking, 10 miniature horses is a great number for one day for me, but at Nationals and World show I will clip and facial about 14 per day. The great thing about having The Clipper Girl come to you before your show or photo shoot is the amount I can get done perfectly in one day, which saves most people a lot of time, and keeps the horses looking perfect just before their event.