Choosing the right clippers or trimmers for your horse operation can be pretty daunting with the many styles and sizes available through stores and catalogues. Clipper models have different kinds of motors, multiple speeds, different blade configurations, some use an electrical power source while others are battery-operated. And some even use both. So when it comes to clipping, where does one start?
When choosing clippers, first consider the workload they'll be handling. If you know you'll only be doing little trims and touch-ups on one horse, a less powerful compact unit may serve you perfectly well. If you're expecting to mow through mountains of winter hair on a stable of lesson horses, you'll need the most powerful machine you can manage. And if your horse is especially sensitive to buzz and vibration, you may be on the lookout for the quietest-running machine rather than the one that gives the fastest clip.
Here are some other shopping tips to keep in mind:
Power up. In selecting a clipper, err on the side of power and performance. "A heavy-duty clipper will work faster, stay cooler and last longer," says Susan Harris, author of Grooming to Win. "If you use lightweight ones and try to do a whole horse, it will burn out your clippers, and your horse will look like he was attacked by a lawnmower."
Get a feel. When shopping for clippers, hold several different models in your hand, idle and running, before you make your purchase. Better still, get the feel of your friends' clippers in actual use. Does the clipper suit your hand and arm strength? Are the vents placed where your hand wraps around them and blocks the flow of cooling? Will they blow hair in your face as you clip? And are the vent screens easy to remove and clean, the blade attachments convenient but secure? Does the "test buzz" produce tolerable noise and vibration levels?
Ask the pros. To check out the durability of a potential purchase, talk to a dog groomer, advises one clipper manufacture. "Dog groomers clip continuously for about five or six hours a day -- far more than the average horse owner ever does. They know what lasts," says Harris.
Sound them out. A clipper's decibel rating gives some idea of how loud the unit will be in operation. In comparison shopping, remember that decibel levels increase exponentially, so a 10-point rise means 10 times the noise. Unfortunately, not all products carry decibel ratings.
This article is excerpted from "The Cutting Edge," which originally appeared in the December 1998 issue of EQUUS magazine.