By combining her two passions, Melody Hames produces some of the most unexpected and spectacular designs in the equine world.
Dubbed the “Horse Barber,” the design graduate has set up her own business clipping creative artwork into the hair of horses.
“They’ve all got a unique meaning,” Hames told CNN Sport. “I’ve always been into art and design anyway so I love to do it.”
’I had never done it before’
The unusual passion was borne from an early age when Hames taught herself how to clip her own pony in a traditional manner.
Her much loved pet suffered from Cushings disease –meaning its coat didn’t shed properly – so she would spend her time tending to it out of necessity.
Friends would then ask her to clip their horses and demand spread through word of mouth.
Having identified an opportunity to create a traditional clipping business, one of her clients then requested a creative cut.
“I had never done it before but I’ve got the attitude of just saying yes and worrying later. So we did it and she put it online,” Hames said, in a phone interview from her home in Greater Manchester, England.
“All of a sudden more and more people started asking so that’s how it started.”
Having set up the business six years ago, her work was eventually scouted by a clipping company in America – Andis – who invited her to showcase her skills and help train others.
After two-years stateside, Hames returned to the United Kingdom where she continues her educational program.
“It’s been an incredible journey, it’s gone further than I ever thought it would,” she said.
“The key really is the educational side of it. I want to share my knowledge and share my craft with others. To inspire others is a big part of what I enjoy doing.”
Hames credits social media for helping her business develop. As more photos of her work were shared online, the more her popularity grew and the more opportunities she was presented with.
She has been clipping full-time for four years.
Last November, Hames was invited to create a design to mark the armistice centenary – 100 years since the end of World War I – an honor she didn’t treat lightly.
“I spent about six weeks on that project,” she said.
“I went down to the Imperial War Museum in London and I went to the library to read. I did quite a lot of research.”
The physical clip itself took 10 hours to complete, split into two five hour sessions spread across two days.
’That one means a lot’
The entrepreneur struggles to pick a favorite design but some works certainly mean more to her than others.
In March 2018, she did a charity clip for MacMillan Cancer Support. The “Gingerbread Horse’” was created in memory of a close friend that had passed away.
“That one meant quite a lot,” she said. “I think a lot of people were able to connect with that one as well.”
Most of Hames’ business comes from individual requests, with people coming to her with a design already in mind – this sometimes throws up strange and difficult requests.
“It might sound a bit odd but one girl asked me if she could have chains on her horses hind haunches,” she revealed.
“It’s the only one where I thought ‘How am I going to do this’? It was very intricate, and it took me by surprise.”
Safe to say that both parties were happy with the outcome in the end.
Hames is confident her work is entirely safe and holds the horses’ well-being at the forefront of her work. She believes the stigma around artistic clipping is borne from a lack of understanding.
“A lot of people who speak negatively about it don’t actually realize that the horses they see on TV are normally clipped.” she said, referring to racehorses.
“I just want to educate people that horses have been clipped for 100 years at least, probably a lot longer. It just so happens that mine stand out.”