Join Date: May 2007
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
One thing to also consider is if the horses are used to and comfortable with clippers. Body clippers are large and quite loud.
If the clippers are old, be sure to replace or sharpen the blades - dull blades will leave marks. You can do it yourself, but if it is the first time, you may end up with some lines - only one way to learn something like that though (and hair grows back)
Be sure to do it about a week before showing the horse to anyone so all of the oils return to the coat. I usually body clip my horses in march or april, so I don't know how it will affect the summer coat at this point. I am not a professional with the clippers, so it takes me 3-4 hours a horse on horses who are good about standing. You get a lot of hair in your face, and all in your clothes :) - just a warning.
The hair really needs to be clean to keep the clippers from sticking. The large body clippers can really only maneuver so some of the way down the leg - I find it easier to finish the legs and most of the face with regular clippers. When you clip, try to go with the direction of the hair - this keeps the clippers from cutting really short - some tricky areas will require you to clip from various angles. Clipping can be done on your own, but it is nice to have someone around to help you hold out a leg to remove the wrinkles from elbows and such.
If you are uncomfortable with clipping, try a really thorough grooming every day to stimulate the new hair growth and shedding of the old hair. A rubber curry, shedding brush, and shedding block are all great tools for this process. You can even use a set of scissors or smaller clippers to trip up the muzzle hair, under chin hair, fetlock hair, ear hair, and other fly aways. This will really do wonders to improve the look of the horses, even with some of their winter coats. Adding a light weight blanket to a well groomed horse can also help loosen some winter hair by rubbing against it when they move (the goal is not to sweat the horse out, but to keep them clean and loosen hair. Horses coats actaully change based on daylight hours more than temperature anyway.