The only good part of clipping a horse is the feeling of satisfaction you get when the job is over. it's kind of like vacuuming your house: it's no fun, but the results of your work are easy to see.
So choosing a set of clippers is a lot like choosing a vacuum. What's important to you' Is it size and weight ? the lighter the better, to make the job easier' Precision and effectiveness' Are you clipping the horse for his comfort or to achieve a look' Is it raw power and low noise you crave' Or is the cost of the clippers the most important factor'
To us, the efficiency of the tool and its corresponding precision are the most important. We want clippers that cut through the horse's coat like a surgeon?s scalpel and are comfortable to hold, and we want them to be precise enough to not leave lines that require us to repeat the cut we?ve already made, again and again. We want clippers that allow us to do the messy job as quickly and as easily as possible, so we can get out of those hair-covered clothes and into a shower.
We tested nine models of clippers on the bodies of our horses ? five were large, heavy-duty clippers and four were smaller, lighter-duty clippers ? for this evaluation.
Models That Work.The Premier 400C is made by Premier Sheep Supplies Ltd., a company that makes clippers and other supplies for horses, cattle, sheep, goats, camelids, poultry and wildlife. Their motto is, ?Equipment That Works,? and this clipper certainly did. It removed our horses? hair with unmatched efficiency and precision. The body and the blades also stayed cool while running, and the body is light and easy to hold. It also fits well into a sturdy plastic, attach?-style carrying case, an important consideration. The motor does operate with a low, rattling sound, but none of the horses were disturbed by it.
The only problems we had were getting started the first time (you have to set the tension handle before attaching the blades), and we managed to lose the screw that holds the tension handle after clipping two horses, a loss the company quickly remedied at a small cost.
The Andis Delta 3-Speed took a bit of getting used to. It arrived with blades attached, ready to go right out of the box, but it's not shaped like any other clipper we?ve ever seen. it's got an ergonomic design that looks a bit like a space ship, with a silver-and-gray body casing and a big, red tension knob on top. At first we found it a bit heavy and awkward and hard to hold the blades flat, but then we sort of became one with it.
It also clipped the horses well. The motor had three speeds, but we found the middle speed to be perfect for horses. Our only criticism is that something about the design of the filter blows hair in your face if you're doing close work. The Delta comes in a black plastic case.
We initially really liked the Wahl Lister Star, which also came out of the box ready for use. Plus the manual clearly shows how to adjust the tension and oil the blades.
The motor on the Lister Star is noticeably quieter and smoother than the Premier, but its cut wasn?t nearly as precise as the Premier. We had to regularly repeat where we?d cut, which reduces the efficiency of your clip job. Overall, the Lister Star is a solidly built but lightweight clipper that's priced about the same as the Premier.
The Wahl Legend failed to live up to its name. The blue case was ergonomically shaped, but the body felt heavier and not as well-balanced as the Wahl Lister Star, and the large clipping head wasn?t as precise. At $50 to $150 more than other choices, it's just not worth it to us.
If You Like ?Em Light.We also tried smaller, lighter-duty clippers on our horse's bodies. We normally don't use these smaller clippers for this purpose, because the number of horses we need to clip requires a large blade for efficiency. But we know that some breeds expect the closer, almost surgical cut these models afford, and we know that some owners, especially if they have only one horse, economize by buying the smaller clippers since they cost roughly half the price of heavy-duty clippers and are supposed to perform both jobs.
Our favorite among the small clippers was the Wahl Stable Pro, a top choice in electric-powered face clippers as well (see October 2010). The Stable Pro?s three-way adjustable blade suits it perfectly for a variety jobs, and the blades can cut with surgical precision. The quality of the cut is aided by the body?s lightness and balance.
Another top-choice in face clippers that are supposed to be able to do body clips, too, is the Andis AGC Super 2. But it's $40 more expensive than the Stable Pro clippers.
Bottom Line.The Premier 400C ($249) and the Andis Delta 3-Speed ($299) are the best body clippers, and the nod for top pick and Best Buy is the Premier 400C.
If you can't afford a set of body clippers and a set of face/leg clippers, try the Wahl Stable Pro.
Article by John Strassburger, our Performance Editor.