A Quick Look at Clippers

When it comes to buying clippers for your barn, manufacturers are offering up a host of choices for jobs both big and small.

Show season is upon us, and who wants to head out with a shaggy, unkempt horse? A good clip job is essential to keep your show horse shining. Those of us who had such a miserable time trying to clip our horses last winter will cock an ear when we hear clipping tricks mentioned. Here’s the scoop: The real trick is to have the right clippers for the job. Here I’ve explored the vast world of clippers and brought you back the spoils of my research.

Types Of Horse Clippers

Since having the right clipper is paramount, start by knowing what you want in a clipper before you buy. Are you looking for a clipper that will hold up to endless body clipping, or do you need a touchup clipper for the head, ears and legs? Trying to use a smaller touchup clipper to clip the entire body of a horse is asking the clippers to fail.

How quiet do you need your clippers to be? If you clip multiple horses, you want a quiet clipper that the majority of horses will tolerate.

You also want one that stays cool and won’t become too hot in your hand or on the horse’s skin. The motors in large, heavy-duty clippers are made to take on the job of full body clipping without over­heating. The motors in smaller, lighter-duty clippers are not meant for such big jobs, and can easily burn out when being used that way.

Lighter-duty clippers have a motor designed for touchup work. For example, “a pivot motor is not built to handle tough clipping jobs, but rather trimming and touchups. For this reason, a pivot motor can be lighter weight, which enables the user to have a steadier hand while trimming,” says Brooke Berg, Oster product manager. The pivot motor also runs very quietly, so a sensitive horse is more likely to tolerate it. Wahl Clipper Corporation uses an extremely quiet-running, electromagnetic “flux shunt” motor in the Iron Horse clipper, which is also suited to light duty trimming.

Larger clippers usually have a rotary or universal motor, as these are much more durable. Body clippers usually are described by strokes per minute (SPM). The more SPM, the fewer passes you’ll need to get the neat and clean clip you’re looking for. The SPM typically varies from 2,000 to 10,000.

“A fan-cooled motor will help keep the clipper cool in your hand,” says Helen Cox, Wahl’s marketing manager. But clippers with fans or vents need a bit of maintenance. They have screens to protect the motor from hair and dirt, and these need to be cleaned periodically. If the screen gets clogged, it will cause the motor to heat up and work less efficiently and shorten the life of the clipper. In addition, the gears will need grease from time to time.

Want a no-fuss clipper? Many clippers have sealed motors and are considered “no maintenance.” The sealed motor has no vents or fans to pull hair or dirt and grime into the motor that could cause a malfunction. “Sealed motors are simply that; sealed within their housing,” Berg says. “Usually, a sealed motor requires no oiling or greasing of the gears,” as there’s no opening in the housing for the motor, she adds.

Fred Koeller, VP of marketing at Andis, says the company’s sealed-motor clippers use their own patented “web drive” motors that have no metal gears to transfer power. Instead, he explains, a “plastic hinge-like device transfers power within the motor,” which makes Andis clippers almost silent and heat-free. It also provides a longer-lasting clipper that requires no cleaning.

Horse Clipper Features

After deciding what your level of clipping will be and what type of clipper you want, it’s also important to know what other features will be useful to you. Among the options you might find handy, even essential in some situations are:

• rust proofing

• antimicrobial blades

• an easy thumb-adjustable taper lever, to provide different cut lengths, and easy blending without having to change the blade

• detachable blades, for easy blade changes

• shatterproof housing for the motor

• heavy duty cord, and sufficient cord length

• cordless options with rechargeable batteries

• a light (flashlight on the clipper), for improved visibility in dark places

And finally, the warranty—the feature that makes you feel safe about your purchase— is good for one to two years for most clippers.

Touch-Up Horse Clippers

The most handy, and most widely used, are smaller, touchup clippers. If you just trim whiskers, bridle paths, ears and fetlocks, this class of clipper is for you. A few choices (all prices approximate):

The Andis Groom Clipper ($85) offers a cool and quiet motor with an adjustable blade and an ergonomic, unbreakable housing for both comfort and durability. It also comes with extra blades. The Andis MC-2 Ear mini clipper ($25) is super quiet, with a very smooth cutting ability as well as an adjustable blade.

Wahl’s Iron Horse ($60) and Stable Pro ($95) are both medium-duty clippers, come with taper control (30-15-10 blades), and are both very quiet and long lasting. Both have powerful motors, are tough enough to be dropped and not break, and come with a case, clipper oil, blade guard and blade brush. Wahl also offers several mini cordless clippers ($17 to $85), all of which are supplied with blades, oil and batteries.

The Oster Adjusta-Groom Clipper ($63) is great for those new to clipping. It comes with an adjustable blade (10-15-30), cleaning brush, blade oil and instructional DVD. Oster is also not without its own mini clippers; the Minimax ($30), for example, is small, quiet, and ergonomic, as it’s light in hand. A convenient finger loop helps prevent accidental drops.

Body Clippers for Horses

While many of us don’t body clip our horses, for those who do, having a reliable, durable clipper is essential. Here are some of the top performers in this class (all prices approximate).

The Andis AGC Super 2-Speed ($140) includes an extra wide blade to reduce clipping time. This clipper is “break resistant” and can withstand chemicals. It has a smaller body for better grip, storage case, is compatible with Oster Model A-5 blades, and comes with a short instructional video. If you want to go cordless, the AGR+ Rechargeable Clipper is maintenance-free and has most of the same attributes as the AGC Super 2-Speed. The battery will last up to one hour and is equipped with a “refresh” button to utilize maximum battery strength. It also has a built-in battery conditioner to double the life of the battery. The battery can be charged separately from the clipper and charges in less than an hour. This clipper also gives you the option of using a cord. All motors run very quiet and cool and are made in the U.S.

Wahl’s KM2 Speed Clipper ($145) has a German-engineered sealed motor for long maintenance-free use. It comes with a 16-foot cord, #10 detachable blade, cleaning brush, storage case, and blade oil. Cordless options include the Chromado ($140) and Bravura ($160). Both are quiet and powerful, offer the option of using a cord, have five blade adjustments, 80 to 90 minutes of charge time, LED battery level indicator, cleaning brush, blade combs, blade set, and blade oil.

Oster’s Turbo A5 2-Speed Clipper ($185) allows for faster clipping with a wider sweep, faster motor and 4,000 SPM. It comes with an extra #10 wide blade, blade guard, blade oil, clipper grease, cleaning brush and instructions. The cordless PowerPro Ultra ($225) comes with two rechargeable batteries; each one operates for up to an hour, and it only takes 20 minutes to recharge a battery—which allows for continuous clipping.

Resource List

Looking for more information? Here’s how to contact clipper


• Wahl: www.wahlanimal.com

• Andis: www.andis.com

• Oster: www.osterpro.com

www.householdappliance.com (good for Oster and Andis)

www.horse.com (good for Wahl)

www.doversaddlery.com (large selection of all)

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