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Clipped the head/ears on a horse who is too good to torture but won't cooperate

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  • Clipped the head/ears on a horse who is too good to torture but won't cooperate

    I'm at a bit of a loss with my big horse. He's a good boy, the very best. I general, I try to avoid doing anything too torturous to him. He puts up with so much and is generally so tolerant, if there are a few things he just doesn't want to deal with, I generally let him.

    He used to be FINE to clip ears/head. You could do it, no problem without someone even holding him. Over the years, he's gotten worse and worse. I've never cut him. He's never had a bad experience with it as far as I can tell. Same clippers and they're quiet. The only difference is that I do it more than I used to (up to maybe 1x/month whereas before I did it maybe 3-4 times a year). I've tried stuffing the ears. I've tried smaller clippers. He's now gotten so bad that he has to be twitched and have someone almost physically hold him still. Last time I went to clip his ears, he was sedated with Dermosedan (vet was out doing something else to him). Even with the dorm AND the vet holding him with the twitch he still tossed me around like a ragdoll.

    Monday I body clipped him. All but his head and the hind legpits where he's really tickly. I think if I get someone to hold his leg up, I'll be able to do the legpits. But what am I going to do about his head? I can't get anywhear NEAR it with the clippers. Even if I only clipped the bottom part, I still can't get him to stand still. What can I do that's MORE than sedative and a twitch? Any clever ideas?!

    It kills me because I hate torturing him. And he never used to mind! If he'd just stand, it'd be over so quickly. And he stands like a rock for everything else, even his butt cheeks, legs, belly- all sorts of areas. I can't leave him clipped halfway up his neck and looking scraggly.
    ~Veronica
    "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
    http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

  • #2
    I'm not sure what you can do besides sedative and twitch. I did have one that hated to be clipped and I would hang a hay net at head level and let he munch while I clipped. He liked that.

    Comment


    • #3
      A few random thoughts -

      Some horses do better with a lip chain (over the gum) than a twitch. I have a chain (sans lead rope) that I string from 1 halter ring over the gum to the other halter ring and clip with a double-end snap. (For a bigger horse head, you might need 2 snaps.) This allows me to work solo.

      Have you had your clipper blades sharpened? Dull blades pull hair.

      You don't really need to do his whole head unless you want to. A lot of people blend the line between clipped & unclipped at the cheekbones. Yes you will still need to do poll, ears, etc. but it's less torture than the whole head ...

      I commend you for being such a sympathetic horse owner, but I think you need to tell him to just suck it up. At least every few months. It's not so much to ask, right?
      "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince

      Comment


      • #4
        How is he to generally handle his ears and face? In general, I would spend a lot of time just desensitizing him to having his ears and face handled. Don't let him get away with not being handled.

        My gelding, for instance, can be a pain about his ears. Sometimes he doesn't even let you touch them. He can't stand having ear plugs put in or out -- it makes him head shy for days. Then there are some days that he will just put his head down and let me clip his ears by myself with the lead rope on the ground . Anyway, I will randomly play with his ears, without any expectation of clipping them or putting ear plugs in them, to get him to accept me working with him. As soon as he drops his head and accepts my touching his ears, I praise him and give him a peppermint - a huge motivation. If he is protesting too much, I am not above crinkling the wrapper to get him to give in sooner.

        Some days he is just in a mood and I need to clip his ears. Rather than fight with him, I will twitch him and get it done with out the fuss. When it is done, he gets lots of praise and peppermints. I have come to the opinion, that sometimes it is less torture for you, your helper, and the horse to twitch or lip chain and get it done, than it is to spend a long time doing a little bit at a time. It is so much easier to nick them and make the situation worse when they are not restrained.

        For now, I would try more drugs, a lip chain, and possibly someone holding a foot. Just make sure the person holding the lip chain and the person holding the foot are skilled and agile. When he is all done, lots and lots of treats and praise.

        Another thing that I have found helpful, is putting them in a "confined" space, like a stall or wash stall and "pinning" them in a wall and corner so they can't move around as much. Lowish ceilings are also helpful. My one big horse, with a long neck who had a distaste for having his face clipped was much easier to do when he could not put his head up too high.

        Comment


        • #5
          I have one of those "so good for 99% of everything it just seems wrong to be mean to him, EVER" geldings, who went to a training barn for a month while i was out of town, and came back with a huge chunk missing from his freshly clipped ears. My "easy-to-clip-all-over horsie" turned in to a "easy-to-clip-anywhere-but-the-ears-and-then-he'd-rather-flip-over horse."
          I find the least traumatic way to deal with it is to just twitch him so that he stands still and clip as fast as I can (carefully). After it's over, i give him tons of carrots and make a huge fuss over him. By the time the 3rd carrot is in his mouth, he's forgotten all about the whole idea.
          Twitches aren't so bad, especially for such short periods. I think twitching and getting it over with is much easier on them than fighting with them for hours.
          just my two cents

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Update.

            He is fine to do anything to his ears (and face) except clip. You can clean them, turn them inside out, practically hang small monkeys and children from them-- no problem. Once the clippers come 1 foot away-- head fling.

            I have tried all kinds of clippers, new blades, ear stuffies-- doesn't matter. He's no dummy and he doesn't care what the clippers sound or feel like. DOES.NOT.WANT.

            So what did I do? I had our AWESOME barn guy who doubles as a vet tech at the track hold Somerset twitched. Our barn guy is SO GOOD at holding them twitched. They don't even MOVE. Got his clipped acceptably (clipped up to the cheek and left the whole face fuzzy but at least had clean lines all around) and called it a day.
            ~Veronica
            "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
            http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
              Update.

              So what did I do? I had our AWESOME barn guy who doubles as a vet tech at the track hold Somerset twitched. Our barn guy is SO GOOD at holding them twitched. They don't even MOVE. Got his clipped acceptably (clipped up to the cheek and left the whole face fuzzy but at least had clean lines all around) and called it a day.

              Say what you want about people at the track, but a lot of them are very good at handling horses-- and difficult horses, at that. Sometimes just having someone who is comfortable and confident holding an unwilling horse is a big help to get the job done.
              “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
              ? Albert Einstein

              ~AJ~

              Comment


              • #8
                Both of my geldings were less than helpful when if came to face and ear clipping.

                Since I did most of my clipping alone, I would put the clippers near the face, then give a treat if they didn't flinch or dodge away. At first it was more treats than clipping, but it did work its way toward clipping the majority of 1/4 of the face before I had to give a treat, and then low and behold it was 1/2 to 3/4 of the face before a treat was needed.

                I will admit that this takes a lot of time and patience, but I feel like its worth it in the long run.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mine all seem to hate their ears being done. I've found that it's just as easy and less traumatic all the way around to twitch them or use a chain and get it over with. I always start by giving them the option to be good, but if they start to fuss, they get twitched and it's done in matter of a minute or two. I've worked with some for a long time and they never seem to get over it. Just one of those things I figured is just not worth making a big deal over for the half dozen times at most that I may have to do it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I dunno.... I'd be asking myself why a horse that used to tolerate this so well is now so vehemently opposed to the clipping. In other words, look at your technique.

                    Once knew a horse that came with skull-and-crossbones warnings about needing tranqs, twitches, two people, closed stall, blah blah blah to trim, body clip, mane pull. I learned long ago not to take people's word on any horse's 'holes', so I took him into an open aisle, dropped his lead rope over my arm as I stood on a bucket and went for the ears. Barely touching them, only supporting the back of the ear so as not to dig in, horse stood like an absolute statue and had all barn staff, riders, leasee & trainers gobsmacked.

                    It worked for me BECAUSE I didn't go repelling off his head while I trimmed him. Less is more. At least in this horse's case.

                    If your horse hates the buzzing, then retrain him to accept it. Yes, training takes time, but a bucket of treats with a cordless in the bottom of it with the horse loose in the stall should be a great start.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      This horse is kind of a funny personality, but as he ages he gets very stuck in his ways. I boarded for many years at a non-show barn and showed rarely. So he got his ears clipped maybe 2x/year. Now I am at a show barn and ears have to be clipped monthly. And I've been showing so, when necessary, he gets a touch up before the show too. So he's gone from getting clipped biannualy to monthly or more. I think it's the frequency he's objecting to, not the technique. But, regardless, it has to be done. World's-Best-Twitch holder seems to be the best solution.

                      He's also no dummy. He lets me clip his bridle path and rub him all over with the clippers. He's fully desensitized and would gladly eat from a bucket with the clipper on at the bottom. He knows the difference between the clippers near his face and going for his ears. He just doesn't want his ears clipped, period.
                      ~Veronica
                      "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                      http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Okay... if it's just his ears, has the vet looked in there?

                        Just trying to help you find a way to avoid twitching and clipping monthly.. But you know your horse better than anyone else.

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Sansena View Post
                          Okay... if it's just his ears, has the vet looked in there?

                          Just trying to help you find a way to avoid twitching and clipping monthly.. But you know your horse better than anyone else.
                          It's a good thought. I actually LAST clipped his ears when the vet was out to do his hock injections. He was heavily sedated with dermosedan. The vet's been around the block a time or two and can certainly hold a twitch. Even with the dorm and twitch he was throwing her around (he's a big dude). She checked in his ears-- nothing?!

                          He's kind of like that. He'll do something a thousand times and then one day he's like "nope, not doing THAT anymore." I can do all SORTS of things to do this horse and he'll stand like a rock, but there are one or two random things he just won't tolerate and I guess ear clipping is suddenly on that list now that it's happening more.
                          ~Veronica
                          "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                          http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Vxf. I feel your pain! Mr BIG TACK is an absolute soldier for every part of his 17.3 h body, except the ears and parts of the face near the ears. Last year, we sedated him with dermosedan, twitched him with RH hanging down to the ground with all her weight to bring his gigantic head down to a decent level, and still he was an a$$hat. Maybe next time I should tranquilize myself and then I won't notice or care that he isn't behaving...He's just so darn tall that when he decides that he doesn't want his ears done, there are very few items that you can use to get up that high and be safe. I got the legs done today, body tomorrow, and then the blasted head. Let me know if you find any solutions!!
                            A

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I know from big... I think the only solution is to lend you by barn guy or farrier. The are BIG STRONG DUDES and horses know it. I think my farrier could pick up and carry my horse around... he is ONE STRONG DUDE and the horses do what he says. Period. Without him using an ounce of strength.
                              ~Veronica
                              "The Son Dee Times" "Sustained" "Somerset" "Franklin Square"
                              http://photobucket.com/albums/y192/vxf111/

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                                Update.

                                He is fine to do anything to his ears (and face) except clip. You can clean them, turn them inside out, practically hang small monkeys and children from them-- no problem. Once the clippers come 1 foot away-- head fling.

                                I have tried all kinds of clippers, new blades, ear stuffies-- doesn't matter. He's no dummy and he doesn't care what the clippers sound or feel like. DOES.NOT.WANT.

                                So what did I do? I had our AWESOME barn guy who doubles as a vet tech at the track hold Somerset twitched. Our barn guy is SO GOOD at holding them twitched. They don't even MOVE. Got his clipped acceptably (clipped up to the cheek and left the whole face fuzzy but at least had clean lines all around) and called it a day.
                                I am glad you were able to find someone awesome to help you get him done. I had one of those clips on my big horse. He had to go to a few big shows like that because I thought he was appropriately desensitized and didn't allow enough time to drug him. I was wrong. Trainer wasn't happy, but fortunately there wasn't a big noticeable difference between the clipped and non clipped area.

                                Originally posted by Sansena View Post
                                ... It worked for me BECAUSE I didn't go repelling off his head while I trimmed him. Less is more. At least in this horse's case.
                                I have found that some of the obstinate ones really just need you to persist. Persist, as in not give up, but also not "repelling" off them (I like that). Somerset sounds more obstinant than scared. When some of them fight me about ear plugs or clippers, I hold their ear with buzzing clippers or ear plug touching it and act like I have all day and that no matter how much they wing their head around or try to move away, the offending object is not going to go away. When they submit, they get a reward. You may have to repeat the process over and over again, but they do get it and I feel like I get better long-term results this way than repelling. Repelling, in my experience just makes them angry and more ready for a fight.

                                That said, I am not opposed to using a twitch or lip chain on days when they are especially obstinant or you don't have all day. But, I always give them the chance to be good. There are also some that you will always have to twitch or drug, but I think there is hope for Somerset

                                Glad you found someone to help you! A good handler really does make a difference.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  It's a longshot, but I once had a client whose horse found ear trimming objectionable when he was overdue for his float. The client swore that once his mouth felt better he'd once again become compliant and stand for his trimming.
                                  http://www.traditionalequinedentistry.com/

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I gently fold the ear in half lengthwise, first with more of the inside front showing and I run the clippers down that. Then I roll the ear to show more of the inside back of the ear and run the clippers down that. It must lessen the noise and vibration.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by jawa View Post
                                      Both of my geldings were less than helpful when if came to face and ear clipping.

                                      Since I did most of my clipping alone, I would put the clippers near the face, then give a treat if they didn't flinch or dodge away. At first it was more treats than clipping, but it did work its way toward clipping the majority of 1/4 of the face before I had to give a treat, and then low and behold it was 1/2 to 3/4 of the face before a treat was needed.

                                      I will admit that this takes a lot of time and patience, but I feel like its worth it in the long run.
                                      Ditto this! The Prince came with a ear-clipping and face washing phobia and I am pleased to report that the treats did the trick... and a little discipline (because he definitely knew better ). I did the green bean the same way, but it did take a while.

                                      Maybe one day when you're at the barn and you're not riding, you can just try it out. Clippers on and close - treat if he doesn't move... closer and closer... rinse and repeat!

                                      I'm glad that you found a good twitch holder to help you out. I agree with the others who have said that it is better to get it over with than to fight for an hour. Then, everyone gets royally pissed off.
                                      ALP
                                      "The Prince" aka Front Row
                                      Cavalier Manor

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by vxf111 View Post
                                        I'm at a bit of a loss with my big horse. He's a good boy, the very best. I general, I try to avoid doing anything too torturous to him. He puts up with so much and is generally so tolerant, if there are a few things he just doesn't want to deal with, I generally let him.
                                        Am I the only one thinking this is a self-made problem, based on the info above? Another post from OP says horse is good until he decides one day he is NOT doing XYZ. Based on those statements, it sounds like OP allows horse to decide when he has to do XYZ, and if he doesn't feel like it, then no big deal. Sorry OP but it sounds like you kept letting him get away with more and more regarding clipping his ears, and now you have a Big Problem.

                                        Lip chain. Repetition. Angry voice. Track Guy. Repetition again. Just keep at it and don't let HIM decide when he's done...with anything. That's the shortcut to More Big Problems down the road.
                                        runnjump86 Instagram

                                        Horse Junkies United guest blogger

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