1. Trim just the width of the bridle’s crownpiece—1 inch tops! (You can always do more next time, but a too-wide bridlepath is a nightmare to grow out.) Section the inch of mane right behind the poll, where the bridle normally lies; use a comb to get your line straight across. Tuck the mane just beyond it safely out of the halter, out of the way, to give a clear view of what you’re clipping.
2. You’re less likely to run into hair you don’t want to touch if you clip from front to back. Use slow, tiny motions.
3. Not too wide, not too narrow, just right.
10 Tips for Safe Trimming
1. Use a sharp #10 blade to do a neat job without scalping your horse (with a finer blade, you’d see errors easily), and keep lubricant handy. The clippers will change tone when they need spritzing.
2. Use a heavy-duty extension cord.
3. Work where the light is good—outside, if your barn isn’t well lit.
4. Use a regular cotton shank.
5. To work on the jaw, unsnap the halter throatlatch and re-snap it to the top ring so it can’t swing up and hit your horse’s eye if he shakes his head.
6. Enlist a calm helper to steady your horse while you trim his ears.
7. Work slowly and carefully. You can trim just about any horse without twitching him if you’re patient.
8. When you hit a ticklish spot, move right back to an area your horse just let you do; then try the ticklish spot again. This process helps desensitize him in those areas.
9. Never trim a horse in crossties.
10. Don’t fight your horse.
Excerpted from “Trimmed & Terrific,” which originally appeared in the July 2000 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.