April 18, 2005
Clipping Your Donkey for Show - Part 4
By now your donkey should be accepting you walking up to him and petting him while you are holding the clippers in the other hand. Now it is time to move on to the next step.
While the clippers are still running, turn them around so that the clipping edge of the blade is facing you, and rub the back of the clipper across your donkey's shoulder. This will help him become accustom to the vibrations before you actually start clipping. Rub him all over his shoulders, neck, and down his back with the back of the clipper handle. He should remain pretty calm while you are doing this. If at anytime he gets nervous and uneasy, back up to something that he is comfortable with. Maybe if there is one area he will let you rub the clippers, but he starts getting upset when you move it to another, go back to the first place, and let him relax and praise him before trying the touchy spot again.
Once I have completed this step, I am ready to start clipping. I like to have an assistant come out and feed the donkey little bits of carrot or apple or blades of grass while I am doing the clipping. This usually keeps my donkeys happy and still for quite a while, while I am clipping them.
Be sure to follow the directions in your clipper manual to properly clean, oil, and prepare your blades before you start using them. This will help them operate better and last longer.
If you have a more experienced donkey who has no concerns about the clippers, you may want to start with clipping his legs first, then his head and face, and finally his neck and back. This is because the donkeys tend to get board after a while, and don't stand as still, making it harder to clip the legs and face.
With donkeys that I have not clipped many times before, I usually start with the shoulder or back. That is because the donkey is usually more accepting of the strange clippers touching him in those areas than on his sensitive legs and face. I always clip against the direction the hair grows, and this gives me the smoothest clip.
For most of the body clipping I use a #3F clipper blade to give a nice smooth coat, but not so short that the skin shows through.
I usually start right above the tail, and clip a long path up the donkey's back. It is important to have sharp clipper blades, and just let the clippers glide through the hair - sort of like a hot knife gliding through butter. Don't try to force the clippers through the hair. That will only slow the clipper blades down, overheat your clipper motor, and pack too much hair into the blade at once. Clip a few inches, then flick your wrist away to toss the loose hair out of the way, and continue clipping along your path, repeating this process.
As you are clipping, listen to your clipper motor, you will hear it run nice and fast when you first start. As you are clipping, you will hear it start to slow down some. Every little bit you will need to spray your blade with blade coolant spray to keep the blade cool and moving fast. As you work, the blade will start getting warm. After a while you will probably need to let that blade cool for a while. This is where it is handy if you have several #3F blades, so you can just take off the hot blade and put in a fresh one to use while the first one is cooling down.
If you are clipping a big donkey like mine, you may also need to stop once or twice in the middle to clean your blades in blade wash and then re-oil and spray them with blade coolant before going back to clipping again. This process will wash a lot of the hair pieces and dust particles out of the blade and help it run better again, too.
Once I have the first path clipped along my donkey's back, I continue by clipping strip by strip along side the first path, making it wider. I continue this moving down the donkey's side. Always pay attention to the direction the hair grows. Somewhere early on you will have to switch to an angle going up instead of across. The hair directly on top of the donkey's back grows straight back, but the hair on the side of his hip grows back and down at an angle, and the hair on his sides grows almost vertically down. Follow the angle of hair growth clipping against the grain to maintain the smoothest clip.
Once you have finished one side of his body, clip the other side. Then you can clip his tummy fur, clipping against the direction it grows. If your donkey is still standing patiently, and not too board yet, you can clip the fur on the sides of his neck next. Don't clip his mane yet. We'll do that later.
With my big mammoth donkeys, I am usually tired of clipping by this point, and my donkey is starting to get tired of it too, so I usually stop and clean up for that day, saving the rest for another session.
I don't have any good pictures right now of the steps we covered today, but I will be clipping several of my show donkeys in the next few days, and will get some to post then.
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Posted by Kristie Jorgensen at April 18, 2005 07:47 AM
I missed the part about washing-getting ready for clipping. Can you send it to me?
I'm getting ready to clip my minis in the next few weeks!
It is so nice to have a 'walk-thru'!!
Posted by: Megg at April 20, 2005 04:32 AM
I'm glad you've been enjoying this series! I know donkey clipping seemed like a rather daunting task to me before I learned how.
You can find my past articles in this series, as well as other articles you are interested in, by running a search through the article archives in this news column. There are step-by-step instructions at http://longearsmall.com/mt/articles/mall/archives/2005/01/how_do_i_view_p.html on how to do this.
Posted by: Kristie Jorgensen at April 22, 2005 12:04 AM