Which clipper blade should I use?
A bit about blades
There are two blades in a horse clipper:
- The big bottom blade is called the comb. This is the one nearest the skin when clipping.
- The smaller top blade is called the cutter. This is the one that moves quickly back and forth.
A couple of different pieces are used to hold these blades together:
- The first is called the spring, which has a plastic piece fitted over the front edge called the blade guide. This guide fits into the groove on the top of the cutter blade and keeps metal from rubbing against metal.
- The spring, with the proper tension, applies pressure on the cutter blade against the comb.
- The last piece is called the socket, which fits over the hinge and has the screws in it to hold the whole thing together. It has two wings that stick up and ultimately wrap around the hinge to help hold the blade tight on the clipper.
Which clipper blade should I use?
The higher the number on the blade, the shorter the hair will be. Your choice of blade will depend on what you want to accomplish when clipping your horse. Sizes are fairly standard across all manufacturers. As a general rule, the blades are numbered in the same way too.
#10 - Course Cut: This blade size leaves hair the longest. It’s often used for body clipping and many clippers come with a free #10 blade with the original purchase. It’s a wise choice of blade to use on the horse’s legs, as it leaves the hair long enough to provide some protection. It’s also a great choice if you’re new to horse clipping techniques. Mistakes are easier to correct at the end of clipping with this blade as you have more length of hair left to work with.
Note: #10 blades are available in regular and wide sizes, with the wider size most appropriate for body clipping, since it removes more hair per swipe.
#15 - Medium Cut: This blade size cuts the hair a bit shorter than the #10 blade, making it the choice for many people when clipping hair on a horse’s head.
#30 - Medium or Fine Cut: This blade size is finer still than the #15 blade. For showing disciplines, where the standard is to remove hair from the horse’s face, insides of horses’ ears, around the eyes and nose, the #30 is often used.
#40 - Fine or Surgical Cut: This blade cuts the hair extremely close to the skin. The cut is so close that if the skin is looked at under a magnifying glass, you can see tiny nicks in the skin.
Why do I need to oil clipper blades?
When you have metal rubbing fast against metal, you must keep these metal pieces clean and oiled to reduce heat and allow them to perform at an optimum level.
Oil the blades and test them periodically for heat against your bare skin. If the blade is too hot to your touch, it will also be too hot on your horse’s skin. Remove them to cool and put another blade on the clipper or, if you don’t have a spare blade, take a break until it's fully cooled.
How do I oil horse clipper blades?
To properly oil your blades, all you have to do is slide the cutter half way out to the right and brush out the blade. Then slide the cutter half way out to the left and brush out the blade. Put five drops of clipper oil on the blade, three drops on the teeth, one at each corner and another in the centre, and two drops on either side of the cut-out area in the top of the cutter blade. Put the blade back on the clipper and run the clipper for 10-15 seconds. If you are going to continue clipping, then wipe the excess oil off of the comb.
When do I need to sharpen my clipper blades?
This seemingly easy question to answer is actually a bit more complicated. Typically, your clipper blades need to be sharpened when they start to tug or pull at your horse's hair rather than cutting it - it feels almost as if they get caught on the coat. Having said that this can be a sign that your clipper blades are due for a sharpening, it can also be a sign that the horse’s coat was not properly prepared for clipping and the blades are catching on dirt and dust. Or, it’s a combination of both.
There’s also the possibility that your blades were brand spanking new and only used for a very short time, but were put away without being cleaned or oiled. They may even have been ever so slightly damp when you put them away, causing them to rust. ☹
How will a blunt blade affect my clipping?
They will irritate your horse as blunt blades will pull and tug his coat instead of gliding through it smoothly. This might make your horse less likely to cooperate with your clipping, both now and in the future.
Blunt blades also make the clipper’s motor work overtime to get the job done. This will shorten the life of the motor.
How many times can my blades be sharpened?
Clipper blades can only be sharpened so many times before they run out of blade to sharpen. The quality of workmanship when sharpening is one factor that affects longevity. Another factor is the amount of steel in the blade - blades like the 40, 30, and 15 cut very close, so there is not as much steel to sharpen. Consequently, you may only be able to sharpen these blades twice. Blades like the 10 and 10W can be sharpened two or three times.
If rust has taken hold and pitted some of the metal, the best option is to replace the blade.
If a blade has gone beyond its useful life with the clipper, don’t throw it away! It makes a handy tool for mane shortening without pulling.
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