Sunday, August 05, 2007

Clipping A Bridle Path

I like to have a horse with a nice clean bridle path.  Obviously the horse looks nicer, but it is also functional.  The halter and bridle both can lay nice and flat on your horses head.

In this post I will describe in detail how to clip your horses bridle path.  I never tie or cross-tie a horse that I am going to clip, no matter how well behaved.  I don't want the horse to feel "threatened" by the confinement of the tie or cross-ties.  A lead rope and halter is all that you need.

This is Dusty.  She has ner natural mane, and as you can see the halter is a bit lost under all of that mane.  I do have a chain over her nose, which isn't nescessary for most horses, but Dusty seems more comfortable when I restrain her this way.  Note her pleasant expression.  At this point in her training, she had only been clipped a few times in her life.

In this next picture I am measuring the length I would like to shave her bridle path.  How I do that is, I fold down her ear, and that is the length that I will shave.  Sometimes, the horse may have a very short neck, and to minimize that flaw I will only shave about three quarters the length of the ear.  Use your judgement, but as a general rule of thumb the bridle path should be the length of the horses ear.

In this next image, I am making sure there is a straight part in the mane.  I do this by using a comb.  I don't want to clip any of the wrong hair.

The next thing I will do is get out my scissors.  I like to trim the long hair before I get out the clippers.  I buy a cheap pair of hair scissors that I can keep at the barn.  They come in handy to trim manes and tails.  Hair scissors do a much better job than ordinary scissors.  Just make sure you only use them for hair and nothing else!

Now it's time to get out the clippers.  I marked the end of the bridle path with Dusty's halter.  If you notice, the mare has her head quite high.  However, I don't mind, I can reach where I need to reach, and she still has her pleasant expression.  As I said, this mare has only been clipped a few times, and I don't want a battle for either of us.  I would like to keep it a positive experience for her.                           

P1010556 Now it's time to check my work!  After I am finished clipping I go back and measure the ear again.  I also check for any stray hairs, and if I missed any I would clean them up now. 

Another point I'd like to add, I always work alone when clipping a horse.  I don't want anyone else to restrain the horse for me, I prefer to do it myself, I feel it is much safer and it keeps me from becoming complacent about what I am doing.  If you are having trouble clipping your horse, put the clippers away or just turn them off and practice working with the horse.   Get the horse used to you touching it's face, neck and head with the clippers when they are turned off.  Take your time, because you never get a second chance to make a first impression on the animal.

Ta da!  Dusty is all finished, looking pretty with a clean bridle path!


EquineSpirit said...

Great post! This summer I finally learned how to clip my horse's bridlepath. I now do it every couple weeks when it starts to look a little shaggy. We've done it so much as to where he actually lowers his head now when he sees the clippers...LOL!

Deanna said...

Thanks equinespirit. You must be doing a great job because he sounds like he enjoys it!

I think horses look so much cuter when they are clean shaven :)