Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Clipping for the Arabian Horse Show Circuit - The Ears Part 3

Due to the early foaling of the Sneaky Arabian mare Part One , the series on clipping got interrupted. Now that the mare has foaled and even the mare and her new colt have had their first successful outing outdoors, it's time to get back to finishing the series on show clipping.

Part 1

In the first two posts I went over in detail about clipping the horse's face and also featured supporting pictures to show the lines and areas where the horse is clipped. No show clip would be complete without also clipping the horses ears.

While I do most of my clipping with a regular size clipper, I use the smaller Stewart by Oster Animal Clippers. These clippers come with a #50 blade and are much smaller and quieter than the regular clippers.

Quieter is key here because most horses have never been taught to tolerate clipping of the hair from the inside of their ears. Most horses require restraint in the form of either a twitch or a lip chain. The quieter and smaller clippers also cause less vibration which is another problem for the horse. These clippers make the job go quicker and smoother with less distress to the horse.

When clipping the ears of a horse, the goal is to clean out all of the inner hair including the longer hairs deep in the grooves inside the ear. The only hair left is a small patch at the tip.

The tips are left to add dimension and to accentuate the shape of the ear at the tip since Arabian horses are know for their short tippy ears.

It's important, just like in clipping the face, to keep the clippers at the same angle in your hand. Altering the angle can change the consistency of the clip and cause gouges and dings. It's also important to try and not let the cut hair to fall down inside the horse's ears. Loose hair in the ears will cause the horse to shake it's head.

I always begin by outlining the tip of the ear. That way I hope to avoid accidentally taking off the hair at the tip I am trying to preserve. Once I have the tips looking like I want them, I work either on the outside edge of the ear or on the inside ear. I tend to alternate back and forth between the areas that are easiest for the horse and those that are hardest. Usually easiest are the outside edge, then the upper inside with the inside cup of the ear and it's grooves being the hardest for the horse.

On the outside edges I just want to take off enough hair so that from the front there is a clean line on the edge of the horse's ear without any hair showing from the back. I even will fold the ear in half, edge to edge, and clip right down those edges. That helps shelter the horse from part of the noise and vibration but also makes that hair on the edge stand up nicely into the blade.

Clipping the inner ear, I work my way gradually down the inside of the ear concentrating on cleaning out all of the hair from inside the ear. The horse will get more and more uncomfortable as you get deeper inside the ear. I try to do a little of the upper finer hair, then go down deep and into the ridges that are there. Then back up to the upper portion. By backing off from the part that bothers the horse the most, you relieve part of his stress.

I've found by working my way like this and taking my time, I can build the horse's confidence. With lots of repetitions, I can teach the horse how to tolerate being clipped without restraint. Also, it's easiest to do these repetitions once the ear has been clipped. Since the hair is gone already, the work goes much more quickly and the focus can be more on getting the horse to relax than on getting those evasive hairs out of the deepest part of the horses ears.

Once I have the ears clipped out, I take either a clean rag with baby oil on it, or a baby wipe and wipe out the inside of the horse's ears. I want to make sure I get all loose hairs out of the ear again so I don't end up with a horse shaking it's head during a class.

In the next and final post of this series, I will cover clipping around the hooves and the legs of the horse.

Part 4


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog, Cherish. . .the word1

    I have looked around your blog and will be back to read some more. I am continually amazed by the variety of things we can learn in blogland. I have little experience with horses, but find your world with them fascinating. I have found myself drawn to some blogs about horses, farms, etc. that are outside of my day-today life. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for visiting Toruń Daily Photo here in Poland!

  3. I had no idea so much had to be done!

  4. A lot of work, really, and it all pays off in the end.

    Abraham Lincoln
    Two robins were fighting in my backyard and I managed to capture them in the act.
    Brookville Daily Photo

  5. Hi MiKael

    I avoid the electric clippers as most of my horses have a hissy fit when they hear or see them. Blaze (the yearling) is the only horse that I have ever used them on who never batted an eyelid, he is such a great colt.

    Well I couldnt equal your 14 horses to lunge today but I got through a few and boy am I gonna be stiff tomorrow and the day after. My two fillies are doing so well and we are all learning together. Larry is very good at instructing (when he doesnt lose patience LOL). I know very little about the western style of riding but I do enjoy it more than the english.

    Hope you are well and coping. When is your open house?



  6. And I thought the racing world was full of tough jobs -- I'm beginning to think that the show world is much more complicated!

  7. Of course I clip ears the same way. Some things stay the same over years and miles, I guess.

    Kaswyn is good about everything, except getting his ears clipped. My trainer found this out the hard way when I was pregnant and she said she would clip him for me. She called me and said he was an absolute jerk to clip his ears. I told her all she had to do was put a twitch on him and he'd stand like a statue. Oops. I guess I should have told her that before she started clipping. I'm sure he put up quite a fight and it wasn't pretty!

  8. Very helpful! I have an arabian mare who I am getting ready for a show, and this was perfect! Now to only convince her to let me clip those ears...