Choosing a horse clipper - what to consider
18 July 2017 | Beth
A horse clipper is a large investment, and something you hope will last for a good number of years. It is therefore important to spend a bit of time making sure you select the right clipper for your and your horses.
There are several points to consider:
There are many cheap import clippers on the market and we strongly recommend avoiding these clippers.
We are huge fans of Lister, because the clippers are made right here in the UK and Lister holds the Royal Warrant as an acknowledgement of their quality. Lister is also the best value for money. We are also huge fans of Heiniger, which is made in Switzerland and although a little more expensive, it is again a good quality clipper that will last for years. Liveryman also has some options worth considering.
Battery vs Mains
Some yards do not have mains access, so you are limited to battery operated clippers. Other people have horses who do not like the sensation of a cable so therefore select battery operated clippers. The freedom and advantages of battery operated clippers are clear! However, they do tend to cost more than mains operated clippers and the batteries will need replacing eventually. You also have to remember to recharge your batteries. Some batteries fit into the handle of the clipper, making for a neat unit, but a slightly longer unit that can be awkward for smaller ponies. Other batteries clip on to a belt and have a short lead that goes into the clipper. The batteries tend to be very reliable these days and easily last long enough for a full clip. The most powerful clippers do not run from batteries and require Mains. The Lister Laser also has an option to run from a 12 Volt battery.
Mains clippers have the advantage of being slightly cheaper, and of course you don't need to worry about your battery going flat! You do, however, need to make sure that your horse stays clear of the cable - if it treads on the cable you will need to purchase a new cable.
Power of Clipper
Typically, clippers are categorised as light duty, medium duty or heavy duty. In addition to clippers you also have 'trimmers', which are for smaller jobs like tidying up whiskers, but are not suited to clipping a whole horse.
Please do not get caught up in looking at the different watt ratings, or the different types of motor as this can be misleading. It is best to go via the category assigned to the clippers.
A 'light duty' clipper is for people with 1 or 2 short haired horses. They are usually smaller clippers, which are light and quiet. You can get cordless or mains clippers in this category. The Lister Star or the Heiniger Progress are good examples.
A 'medium duty' clipper is for those with between 1 and 5 horses. It can handle feathers and most jobs and is more powerful and more durable than the light duty clippers. They are usually very slightly larger than 'light duty' clippers, but still quiet and easily manageable for most people. You can get cordless or mains clippers in this category. The Lister Liberty and the Heiniger Xplorer are good examples.
A 'heavy duty' clipper is for those with lots of horses to clip or for horses with particularly coarse or difficult hair. These more powerful clippers often have attachments that also let them be used for sheep shearing, alpaca shearing and cattle clipping too. They are typically larger, louder clippers with more vibration. They are also very tough. I have small hands and I can use these clippers, but my hands get tired after about half an hour. These clippers run from the mains, although there is an option to run the Lister Laser from a 12 Volt battery (ideal for those clipping in the middle of the filed). Professionals will usually select a heavy duty clipper. The Lister Laser 2 is a good example.
Very Light Weight Clippers and Trimmers
Trimmers and light weight clippers are cheaper than full horse clippers. They are small and light and this tempts some people to try to use them as full horse clippers. If you have a horse with a very light coat, this may be possible, but it will take a long time. The trimmers are simply not powerful enough and the blades are also smaller. If you try to clip a horse with a trimmer you will find it frustrating and your trimmer may also not manage it and break. Please be cautious! If you have a horse with fine hair and want to give it a go, something like the Liveryman Harmony, or the Lister Libretto are options to consider. You can purchase 'wide' blades that go on to both of these trimmers, which will speed clipping up and make it slightly easier.
Battery operated clippers are the most expensive, and the price of clippers tends to increase as the power goes up. Heiniger is the most expensive brand, but is an excellent and reliable clipper. Lister is a great price and fantastic quality - the best value brand when you consider the price and quality equation. Liveryman prices have been increasing recently and they are becoming less competitive in the market place.
Please be very wary of other brands, especially those where the actual manufacturing destination is unclear. People often try to get us to carry other brands, but we believe the quality of a clipper (which has quite a tough task) is very important - nobody wants tensioning or motor problems.
Few people will select a clipper based on its looks, but if you want something in a different colour, the Lister Star comes in a choice of 4 colours (red, blue, sage green and purple). This makes it a popular choice for teenagers, especially as it is also small and a good 'starter' clipper. Heiniger also has the Progress Style, which is funky and another good starter option for teenagers.
If you have any questions about selecting a clipper, please don't hesitate to call. We are a family run business and we are always happy to help. We know all the clippers inside out!