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  1. #1
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    Default Ticklish during clipping - ideas?

    I've body clipped my mare for years but haven't ever had an easy time near her stifle/belly. She's just super ticklish. She twitches badly and the blades bounce. When she's really agitated, she's a pretty big jerk about it. This horse has great ground manners otherwise, so I really think it's genuinely uncomfortable for her. She's fine with most of her body being clipped - just these little spots seem to really bother her.

    I've used the regular body clippers and even the smaller face ones, but no matter which clipper I use, there's just a few small areas that are brutal for her. She's 95% done (trace clip) from today, but she's got those few ticklish spots that I'd like to get tomorrow. Any ideas to desensitize? I've tried ace and twitch to no avail. We've been successful when the vet has come out and done heavy-duty tranq, but that's not an option this year.

    It's not the end of the world to leave those few fuzzy spots but I'd rather get them so she looks a little more presentable
    "I'd rather have a horse. A horse is at least human, for god's sake." - J.D. Salinger



  2. #2
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    Can you put some food in front of her when you clip those areas as a distraction?
    Freeing worms from cans everywhere!



  3. #3
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    Thanks for the idea. It is a good one, but doesn't quite cut it. I've had a helper feed carrots... still pretty twitchy. Makes it hard for both of us
    "I'd rather have a horse. A horse is at least human, for god's sake." - J.D. Salinger



  4. #4
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    Have you tried working her hard for 3-4 consecutive days, then clip (after a good workout) - ie she's tired/exercised in mind & body, & in that "cooperative" frame of mind

    As above, but also apply an analgesic spray to desensitize those areas (make sure you know the timing for maximum effect).

    Rather than feeding treats as a distraction, use high value treats to reward cooperative behavior (ie she stands quietly, then receives a small treat) - this obviously takes some practise for horse to understand the concept.

    You might also try desensitizing these areas by "clipping" them daily (or alternate days) over a period of time - obviously much simpler if you have battery powered clippers - just run the clippers over the areas (in the direction of the hair) without actually clipping. Again reward her with high value treats ONLY when she's successful at not reacting - use your judgement as to when she's earned a treat, she's obviously going to need to practise too.

    When using this sort of treat/reward system, obviously horse must first learn how to calmly accept treats.


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  5. #5
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    My horse is very thin skinned and clipping is usually pretty traumatic for both of us. Better living through chemistry for us. A little sedative, and he wakes up clipped and cozy in a rug without the battle we would go through without. For horses that find the experience truly uncomfortable, I don't think there's much training you can do, and I think trying to get them to suck it up and take it is a little unfair. It also makes the process much quicker, as you aren't struggling to get them to stand still or constantly correcting them regarding kicking or biting.

    A twitch can sometimes help if it is just a couple of small spots and just a little ticklish, so if you don't want to do drugs, you can try a quick twitch for the tickly bits.

    I find body clipping a hard thing to train on as it is done so infrequently. There Re some things, I think, that aren't worth the battle, and I rather get the job done quickly and efficiently without drama.


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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    I find body clipping a hard thing to train on as it is done so infrequently.
    But you don't need to actually clip to desensitize, throw on a longer blade & all the sensation annoyance is there without removing hair.
    And this mare seems to be good except for a few spots.

    But sedating will get the job done today
    - which seems what OP would like


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  7. #7
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    GOOD NEWS.

    It's not the prettiest - but I used face clippers on the "longer" setting in the tricky spots and the hair was roughly the same length. Got a few more lines than usual but honestly, it saved her the trauma.

    I had tried this yesterday and she was a complete jerk, BUT that was at the end of the clip job and I think she was mentally fried. So today, we started fresh, started with the little blades with the intention of "neatening up" and she was a good sport long enough to get the ticklish spots. I think next year I just need to plan on doing it in two days (and maybe think about sedation). It's too agitating for her to expect her to be a good sport for the whole job.

    Do you guys sedate on your own? Call the vet out? I've done ace (well, BO gave it and it didn't help at all), and then had vet come out and do some more serious tranq (which did help).

    What do you suggest?
    "I'd rather have a horse. A horse is at least human, for god's sake." - J.D. Salinger



  8. #8
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    Jul. 7, 2013
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    My horse tends to be pretty sensitive on his belly.

    I've found that if I clip that area first or on a different day before the clippers have a chance to get too warm he is better about it.

    Not sure if that will work for everyone though!



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by alto View Post
    But you don't need to actually clip to desensitize, throw on a longer blade & all the sensation annoyance is there without removing hair.
    And this mare seems to be good except for a few spots.

    But sedating will get the job done today
    - which seems what OP would like
    It depends on the horse, but the really sensitive ones definitely react differently to you actually clipping than they do to the vibration of the clippers. It just depends on how thin skinned the horse is. Mine is one that there is no desensitization (though he does get a little better every year).

    OP, I have used ace on many horses that just needed a little to push through. Sometimes just knocking the edge of is enough. I used to use a pretty serious cocktail on my guy (dorm and....?), but we are able to use just dorm now. Some people use rompum, but it makes them sweat and they can have some really serious involuntary twitches with it (I've heard farriers describe it as rompum stompum). Talk to your vet and see what they suggest. (Please forgive my phonetic spelling of these drugs!).



  10. #10
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    Starhorse, I sedate on my own, but I"m a retired vet tech. I'm not surprised you didn't have luck with Acepromazine alone as a sedative for body clipping.

    Give your vet a ring and see if they can sell you some Dorm Gel.. an oral sedative that won't leave them hyperaware of auditory stimuli.

    Otherwise, I'd pay the vet to come by and administer a rompun/ torb cocktail about 20m prior to my starting the hinky spots.



  11. #11
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    Thanks guys!

    Appreciate all of these ideas. We made it through this time, so I'll be sure to talk to my vet before the next time!
    "I'd rather have a horse. A horse is at least human, for god's sake." - J.D. Salinger



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