Equine artists turn horses into works of art

Posted by admin on Dec 15, 2014 in Animal Oddities, Design and Home, geekery, news, style |

Castle Clip JMC Equestrian

When most people see Jillian Scott’s horses they do a double-take. Is that really a zebra in North Lanarkshire, Scotland? Nope, it’s part of Scott’s art — but the canvas she uses isn’t paper or linen; it’s the bodies of horses. From shaving giraffes to dragons to Batman, this is the realm of creative clipping.

And some of the designs are crazy. For customers Scott has shaved everything from a skeleton to the Minion from Despicable Me on a horse’s rear — a type of clip called a “bum patch” that’s increasingly popular wIth people who don’t want to commit to a full-creative groom — to a One Direction logo onto a pony. But her favorite designs is her leopard print.

Halloween Horse Jillian Scott

A horse groomer for ten years, Scott, 27, started experimenting last year: she took out her clippers and carved a zebra pattern into her horse, a job that took around three hours, with breaks to consult images on her phone to make sure she had the pattern right. The same clip now takes her 45 minutes. Her work started getting her local attention — some positive, some not so friendly. “Some people don’t like new things,” she shrugged. She charges $63 for a “regular” clip and $78 for a creative clip.



Scott isn’t the only groomer using horse hair as artistic medium. Melody Hames, 28, a graphic design student at the University of Salford, Manchester who works at JMC Equestrian, wanted to combine clipping with her art.

After sketching her designs on paper she clips freehand — with no stencils. Her most impressive creation: a detailed castle etched into the side of a Freddy, her 4-year-old horse. It took nine hours. That’s the picture up top.


20 year old New Zealander Greta Alexandra OSkolkov-Schneider spends her days spraying people with fragrances at a department store. But on nights and weekends, she’s known as a rising star in Wellington’s grooming scene, creating equine art that is simply mindblowing.

Horses transform into giraffes under her skillful hands. A dragon sprouts wings.  A Pink Floyd album cover appears on the side of her horse, the bricks and walls meticulously laid out (her favorite song is Hey You)    Then we see a zebra. And a skeleton. A batman bum patch.

Screen Shot 2014-11-18 at 6.56.42 PM

 Greta’s Pink Floyd cover

But Greta’s disappointed that New Zealanders are  so conservative. “No one wants the fancy clips,” she said. “I have to look for horses if I want to do something creative.” She plans to keep clipping horses, but will start hairdressing school in the fall. “I’ll still be in the haircutting thing, and will learn human hair,” she said. “There’s not enough business here, so it’s more like a hobby to me. I can’t earn a living doing creative clipping.”

Greta Dragon Clip

 Greta’s dragon clip

Greta Skeleton horse

 Greta and her horse

Netherlands-based Maysoon Rashid also isn’t sure she could sustain it full-time, as much as she loves how playful she can be with the clippers. When she left the stable where she learned to clip horses to pursue her studies in human physiotherapy (she plans to study Equine physiotherapy next) she had time to experiment on her own horse. She’s even clipped a Facebook “like” button onto a horse’s side.


Some clippers can maintain a business. Scott runs Peatside Equi Custom Clipping and works full-time training and clipping horses. But it’s not cheap: the costs of tools and blades add up. Scott estimated $1600, Hames said $2200 and Greta approximated $2400.

Maysoon Rashid and horse

Maysoon and her horse

But some say neigh to horse-clipping, calling it cruel. Hames’ response: “Anyone with sense knows its only a haircut and not doing any harm.” Scott’s also experienced negativity, with some saying she’s “messing with the horse’s temperature regulation,” which she thinks is absurd. Clips are fun, she says, but a lot are practical: “A traditional clip has half the horse exposed to cool air and half stays warm, while my leopard and zebra clips keep the horse at an even temperature.”

leopard horse JMC equestrian

Jillian’s leopard print horse

Kristin Simon, cruelty casework manager at PETA, thinks that the horse groomers are being selfish. “Turning a beneficial treatment into a useless decoration is just human vanity,” she told OZY. She objects to animals being forced to stand for hours during the process. “Everyone should put their horses’ comfort and wellbeing as a priority, and not some kind of designs.” Simon’s also concerned that amateur groomers might attempt this without understanding how to do so safely, which could lead to accidentally nicking the horse with clippers or a horse or overheated clippers.

For the clippers who’ve trained professionally, it’s an opportunity to channel their horsey love into a creative outlet. But as with any artistic expression, could it ever be mainstream — could there be a Crufts version for equine art? Scott thinks it will as more people see and want to try it out. For now, “They have clipping competitions on Facebook, we just need them in real life.”

— Story reported and written by Zara Stone, first published on OZY.com . Re-publishing here with some extra comments and photos.

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