With the falling of both leaves and temperatures comes woolly coats — and the return of the clipping season. While there’s nothing more satisfying than a neatly-clipped horse, all velvet smooth and ready to work without working up a sweat, getting to that point isn’t always plain sailing...
Clipper maintenance is essential, of course, and you could swear you put your clippers away clean and oiled after the final clip of the season months ago. So how it is when you dig out that little plastic carrying case, what lies inside is suspiciously hair-encrusted? And why is there an ominous whine and stink of overheating when you finally get them going?
Mud monster moment
After getting your clippers back following a service — the bill for which makes you feel faint — it’s time to prep Prancer for his conversion from furry bear to sleek superstar. Trouble is, Prancer has been taking an advanced course in Rug Destruction And Removal and has finally graduated with full honours; when you fetch him in from the field, the latest victim is a sad little heap of tatters on the ground and Prancer is wearing what can only be described as a Full Mud Jacket.
To be blunt about it…
It’s taken 12 hours for the mud crust to dry sufficiently for you to begin the filthy job of brushing it back off again. An hour later, and with your face and general upper body area resembling a miner emerging from a shift down t’pit, you’re ready to get clipping. Extension lead sorted and clipper oil applied, Prancer stands patiently while you begin what feels oddly like clipping a shag pile rug with a pair of nail scissors. It’s not until Prancer gets cross enough to ‘accidently’ stand on your foot for the third time that you realise the blades have helpfully gone blunt during their summer holiday.
Another eye-watering bill later for express blade sharpening and you’re ready to finish what you started. Thankfully, trussing Prancer up in the equivalent of an equine straightjacket means the prep job isn’t quite as bad this time, and you’re soon confidently removing large swathes of fur. Unfortunately, Prancer hasn’t quite forgotten the first attempt’s tug-and-nip sensation courtesy of the blunt blades and this time he decides to live up to his name. The first go at tracing a neat line isn’t too bad, but getting the other hind leg to match is more challenging and you suddenly understand what is meant by the phrase ‘you can’t stick it back on again’.
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It seemed like a good idea to clip Prancer first thing in the morning, and you cleverly made sure you dressed in the equivalent to a biohazard suit to avoid hair reaching every nook and cranny. But despite your best efforts, it’s soon apparent there was a breach in your defences and you’re itching and scratching like a flea-infested mutt. By the end of what feels like the longest day ever on the yard, you can’t wait to get home and shower. It’s just unfortunate that your other half chooses the precise moment you’re undressing to walk in and witness what must rate as the least attractive sight since you were sick in front of him on your second date after a dodgy kebab. Apparently it is possible to ‘stick it back on’, just so long as you’re sticking it to your chest. Who knew?