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Clipper Advice

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  • Clipper Advice

    Hi all, I've posted a similar thread prior to this, however I've begun my "clipper desensitization" with my young horse, and I'm looking for some further advice. I apologize in advance for the novel.

    I had originally thought that clippers wouldn't be a problem for her and boy, was I ever wrong! I had started by using an app on my phone (with sound and vibrations) to begin our desensitization. This wasn't a problem for her, I could pretty well shove my loud, blaring phone in her ear and she could really care less. Then, I brought out the real deal...

    I own the Wahl KM10 clippers. They aren't huge, and they aren't loud. Upon pulling them out of my bag, she gave them one snort and then seemed to settle. She received a treat for settling. I was able to drag the non-operating clippers across her body, legs, face, etc. without her really batting an eye. I figured it was time to turn them on. The noise startled her, but I didn't get a crazy reaction. I let them run for ~5 minutes before even getting close to her, letting her sniff, turning them on/off when she approached them, etc. I basically didn't stop our exercise until she was fully settled, and received a treat for the improved behavior. I realize that during this time, timing is very important.

    I concluded session 1 with that. Session 2, I grew the confidence to actually place the running clippers on her body. She moved away, but I held my ground until she "settled". By settled, I mean stand very tensely in a still position. She did not like the vibrations. Keep in mind, she is not a very "skin-sensitive" mare. I basically held the clippers near the shoulder, withers, neck and chest without being trampled and getting her to settle. Treats were received once she was calm. This would conclude our second session.

    Session 3, I figured it was time to move the running clippers around further. However, we could barely get to that point. Upon re-introducing them to her shoulder, it was as though she had never seen them before. Snorting, bulging eyes and a swift KICK (yes, hind end kick) was to follow. Please keep in mind I did take the time to re-introduce them while they were not operating, letting her sniff, etc. She received a little smack for the kick on the underside. However, I'm not sure if this was the best reaction on my part. I don't want her to be fearful of the clippers (and want to make it as positive of an experience as possible), but do not want her to engage in dangerous behavior. My sessions have been kept to 15 - 20 minutes as not to overwhelm her, but I feel like we aren't really getting anywhere. She settled, and we did end this session on a good note with a treat. We did not get the clippers past her shoulder.

    I understand that there are significant differences in horses. Some you can clip right off of the bat, and others, well, will require tranquilization or a twitch no matter what. I really didn't want to have to go the tranq route, but I'm feeling as though that might be the only safe option. Does anyone else have any experience with desensitizing a rather sensitive horse with the clippers? How long did it take you? I realize that this might take upwards of 10 - 15 "sessions" before she really becomes comfortable, and I really don't want to rush it, but would like to know if I'm heading in the right direction. Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    for face/head.... daughter has been using Horse Shave... its a hand held razor

    https://www.valleyvet.com/ct_detail....SABEgIKtvD_BwE

    Comment


    • #3
      Is your horse hard tied while you're working with this?

      If so, I would suggest not tying at all and using a pair of cordless clippers. Let her move around and go with her until she stops moving.

      Kicking is a fight response. They only resort to that when we take away their flight response. Let her move around so she knows can move around, and the kicking usually stops.
      I’d rather ride on a Mustang, than in one.

      BaileyAnn Neal

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thank you clanter but unfortunately this will not solve the body clipping problem. I've never heard of these little blades being used other than to clean-up whiskers which we no longer practice, but I suppose it could be useful!

        WildGooseChase yes we've been practicing these sessions in the cross-ties as I don't own cordless clippers. I suppose I might have to pick up a pair to practice this. However, I'm really just hoping with time she will be okay with my corded ones.

        Comment


        • #5
          I see this a little differently, and YMMV.

          I am not a fan of the "poor sweet flower" method of addressing things that a horse might DECIDE to be afraid of. I try to take the attitude at all times that what I am doing is not big deal, so get over yourself.

          I don't like to introduce things in cross ties, because if it doesn't work, the horse has managed to get away from the **thing**, and they've probably broken your cross ties.

          I usually run clippers all over a horse, with the motor off, in their stall, or better still, in my wash stall. I designed the wash stall with an off center door, and a ceiling that is low enough, and solid oak, so that I can always get to a horses' head, without them being able to swing up and hurt themselves, or me. There is also a GFI in there, so I can run clippers in there, if need be.

          After going over them with the motor off, I turn it on, and do the same thing. Rinse, repeat.

          If you are expecting a big blow up, you're going to get one. You're the boss, and without being mean or abusive, miss flower needs to get with the program.
          When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou
          www.americansaddlebredsporthorse.net
          http://www.asbsporthorse.blogspot.com/

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Originally posted by ASB Stars View Post
            I see this a little differently, and YMMV.

            I am not a fan of the "poor sweet flower" method of addressing things that a horse might DECIDE to be afraid of. I try to take the attitude at all times that what I am doing is not big deal, so get over yourself.

            I don't like to introduce things in cross ties, because if it doesn't work, the horse has managed to get away from the **thing**, and they've probably broken your cross ties.

            I usually run clippers all over a horse, with the motor off, in their stall, or better still, in my wash stall. I designed the wash stall with an off center door, and a ceiling that is low enough, and solid oak, so that I can always get to a horses' head, without them being able to swing up and hurt themselves, or me. There is also a GFI in there, so I can run clippers in there, if need be.

            After going over them with the motor off, I turn it on, and do the same thing. Rinse, repeat.

            If you are expecting a big blow up, you're going to get one. You're the boss, and without being mean or abusive, miss flower needs to get with the program.
            Thank you for the advice, ASB Stars. I guess I'm really caught up in making it a poor experience, by which will make all further sessions more difficult! I like your approach though. Would you recommend having her in-hand (on a lead rope) instead of the cross ties? I don't have a cordless clipper, so my other concern would be her getting tangled in the cord if she decides she wants to move. Are cordless clippers a necessity in this?

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post

              Thank you for the advice, ASB Stars. I guess I'm really caught up in making it a poor experience, by which will make all further sessions more difficult! I like your approach though. Would you recommend having her in-hand (on a lead rope) instead of the cross ties? I don't have a cordless clipper, so my other concern would be her getting tangled in the cord if she decides she wants to move. Are cordless clippers a necessity in this?
              I wouldn't have her in cross ties- I'd put her on a shank, in her stall if you have to. However, you do not want her running around you, which is why I like a wash or grooming stall. Start out with the clippers off, and touch every part of her. If you need a friend to hold her in place, be careful. You need someone who won't let her move, because otherwise, you just get in each others way.

              Next up, I might turn them on in front of her, and stand there with them close to her, and just stay there until she gets bored. That takes patience. If she's food oriented, sometimes you can get them to touch the clippers, for a reward.

              Make due with what you have, both in a facility, and the clippers. Just give some thought to how to get her to understand this is not optional.
              When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them- Maya Angelou
              www.americansaddlebredsporthorse.net
              http://www.asbsporthorse.blogspot.com/

              Comment


              • #8
                No way have her in cross ties or tied at all for clipping. Does she ground tie? Does she know if she steps on her lead to move her feet and get off it? She probably feels trapped in cross ties and it's dangerous if something goes wrong - like if she panics. I'd start with all that.

                I adopted a horse who'd been physically and mentally abused (she wasn't even in her body when I got her) and was terrified of the clippers and it took time, every day, for a few minutes until we worked through it. I'd turn on the clippers and have them far enough away that she wasn't over threshold.

                Then, the second she relaxed a hair, or moved forward towards them I'd turn them off and moved them away from her. Every day I'd move them closer until able to touch her on her body - starting at the shoulder. Slowly worked my way up to her head.

                It took time and patience but in time - maybe a few months - she stood perfectly still and lowers her head while I clip her bridle path. It's no big deal and she's confident nothing terrible will happen.
                Last edited by PaddockWood; Mar. 19, 2020, 05:09 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I want to add my thought is make a big deal with "Good Girl (or Boy)!" every time you get the desired response and then rub on her. My "Good Girls" are said so excitedly that it's pretty clear to my horses something really good just happened!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    Originally posted by PaddockWood View Post
                    No way have her in cross ties or tied at all for clipping. Does she ground tie? Does she know if she steps on her lead to move her feet and get off it? She probably feels trapped in cross ties and it's dangerous if something goes wrong - like if she panics. I'd start with all that.

                    I adopted a horse who'd been physically and mentally abused (she wasn't even in her body when I got her) and was terrified of the clippers and it took time, every day, for a few minutes until we worked through it. I'd turn on the clippers and have them far enough away that she wasn't over threshold.

                    Then, the second she relaxed a hair, or moved forward towards them I'd turn them off and moved them away from her. Every day I'd move them closer until able to touch her on her body - starting at the shoulder. Slowly worked my way up to her head.

                    It took time and patience but in time - maybe a few months - she stood perfectly still and lowers her head while I clip her bridle path. It's no big deal and she's confident nothing terrible will happen.
                    Unfortunately, she is only 3 in the month of April, so we haven't introduced ground tying quite yet. To be honest, I'm unsure how I would go about introducing ground tying with her because she is so young and distracted. Perhaps I do need to give it more time, as I've stated, we've only had 3 sessions, with some improvement and not, so perhaps we will stick to the routine until she is comfortable. I will have to attempt without cross-ties, as that seems to be the recommendation!

                    Whenever she exhibits the desired behaviour, she is always rewarded verbally, and knows it too. I agree that verbal praise is very important in a young horse's training.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Do you have someone nearby that starts young horses or is known to be a good trainer and rehabber? I think getting an evaluation by someone gifted in training might be money and time well spent? If she is SO distracted and cannot focus is seems she needs more general help that will also help with general handling and focus. My next thought is have you
                      watched Tristan Tucker videos? He specifically addresses horses than cannot focus and helping them through that.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just keep doing what you’re doing.

                        As someone who spent years grooming and clipping horses, and who has raised several of my own babies, you can’t just tell every young horse to “get over themselves”.

                        Some horses love being clipped, they immediately fall asleep. Some will never relax. Some are just easier to tranq.
                        If you have the time though, you should be able to teach your baby to tolerate it. You could try getting a $20 pair of small cordless clippers. They won’t really be powerful enough to clip anything other than ears, but they’re quiet and cordless.
                        I also have a coming 3yo who is sensitive. I make sure to turn my little cordless ones on once or twice a week. I do it in the stall so she can choose to come over, investigate, and if she needs to step back to get her bearings she can.

                        My 11yo was so easy. I remember when he was 3 I couldn’t find an extension cord so I held him with one hand and trimmed all four legs and his ears with the other hand. I had to keep bopping him on the nose so he’d stop trying to eat the clippers.
                        He’s the easiest horse to body clip.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          For what it's worth, after more than 20 years of clipping horses, I don't ever clip a horse who is tied. It's been my experience that they are 100% better if held by someone (if they're bad) or the rope thrown over my shoulder (if they're generally good)

                          Some horses are fine until they suddenly decide they've had enough, and it's much safer for everyone if they're not tied when that happens.
                          Originally posted by PeanutButterPony
                          you can shackle your pony to a lawn chair at the show...so long as its in a conservative color.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by PaddockWood View Post
                            Do you have someone nearby that starts young horses or is known to be a good trainer and rehabber? I think getting an evaluation by someone gifted in training might be money and time well spent? If she is SO distracted and cannot focus is seems she needs more general help that will also help with general handling and focus. My next thought is have you
                            watched Tristan Tucker videos? He specifically addresses horses than cannot focus and helping them through that.
                            Unfortunately no, we have no real "gifted" horsemanship trainers in my arena that practice such methods. I have seen the Tristan Tucker videos, I really do admire his approach and feel like after the advice I received on here, it would be worth purchasing a cheap cordless clipper. It really depends on the day, what's going on outside, etc. for her to be totally out of body, but typically she is OK. I do like having distractions though as to prepare her for the show scene. I wouldn't be trusting her to ground tie quite yet!

                            Thanks GoodTimes, that's reassuring! Haha if only all of our babies could be like your gelding.

                            soloudinhere, thank you also. My cross-ties are the release type so I never really thought of them as a risk, but you're definitely right. Allowing her the ability to move would also mitigate the risk of a kick, which I've already experienced...

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              kwpn_01 if only! This gelding also got his first bath when he was two...from my non-horsey dad. He brought them in because the bugs were bad, baby horse had rolled in some stinky mud, non-horsey dad proceeded to hold him with one hand and spray him with the hose with the other. Horsey took it all in stride.
                              If he tried that with current 3yo she'd be gone before you could blink.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by GoodTimes View Post
                                kwpn_01 if only! This gelding also got his first bath when he was two...from my non-horsey dad. He brought them in because the bugs were bad, baby horse had rolled in some stinky mud, non-horsey dad proceeded to hold him with one hand and spray him with the hose with the other. Horsey took it all in stride.
                                If he tried that with current 3yo she'd be gone before you could blink.
                                It's crazy the differences between personalities! Not sure if anyone on here has used and/or owned these, but I was searching for cheap cordless clippers (none of them are really cheap, if I'm being honest) and I came across the Wahl Pocket Pro Trimmer. They're no more than $15, cordless, and seem to pack a pretty decent motor volume for desensitization. Has anyone had any experience with these?

                                At this point, I'm ready to sell my corded ones and invest in a decent pair of the cordless to have for my horse. I'd hate to waste money on half decent cordless clippers and then never use them since I primarily only use my corded ones. Thoughts?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  As you are doing this, I would also evaluate how obedient your youngster really is. Cross ties can hide an abundance of bad behavior and even the most diligent among us tend to let stuff slide.

                                  Whenever I'm handling a young horse I do it off the cross ties. If you are grooming, bathing, tackling up, whatever, if they move a foot you will be so much more prompt and consistent in reinforcing WHOA. Later I move to one side cross ties, the other side on a lead, but that's mostly about introducing then to the concept of cross ties, but it can be a used as a good refresher on standing still on cross ties.

                                  If you try this and you find you have a horse moving around a lot, you really have to address that problem first or at the very least concurrently. You can't get a horse to accept something they have a strong opinion about unless you are in control of all 4 feet and the pea brain in between!
                                  Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    I'd also do this after moving the horse's feet for a bit - a short lunge or round pen session working on going forward, then into a safe area with a rope halter and pocket full of small treats and the clippers. Also, at 3 I'd really be working on tying, cross tying, and ground tying. I started with letting him drag the rope and step on it a few times and then tying during eating.

                                    I had to remind myself to be patient during each session and be satisfied by achieving less forward progress during each session. If things were going well, ask for the tiniest amount of incremental progress and stop there. Keep telling yourself you have lots and lots of time (several years) to achieve the final result.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by kwpn_01 View Post

                                      It's crazy the differences between personalities! Not sure if anyone on here has used and/or owned these, but I was searching for cheap cordless clippers (none of them are really cheap, if I'm being honest) and I came across the Wahl Pocket Pro Trimmer. They're no more than $15, cordless, and seem to pack a pretty decent motor volume for desensitization. Has anyone had any experience with these?

                                      At this point, I'm ready to sell my corded ones and invest in a decent pair of the cordless to have for my horse. I'd hate to waste money on half decent cordless clippers and then never use them since I primarily only use my corded ones. Thoughts?
                                      Yes! I have the pocket trimmers. They’re a fair bit quieter then “real” clippers, but still powerful enough to do ears and jawlines.
                                      Once the pocket ones are no big deal, I plan to switch to my corded Andi AGC 2-speed, then fingers crossed she’ll tolerate my Lister Stars eventually.

                                      Set them up for success when introducing new things. Work them first, or do it in the evening when other horses are in the barn and the atmosphere is relaxed.
                                      Instilling “whoa” is certainly important. But I’d much rather clip a horse that’s relaxed and moves once in awhile, vs one who is so tense they’re ready to explode, but are standing because they were taught not to move. Guess which one will probably have a fit half way into a body clip?

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by GoodTimes View Post

                                        But I’d much rather clip a horse that’s relaxed and moves once in awhile, vs one who is so tense they’re ready to explode, but are standing because they were taught not to move. Guess which one will probably have a fit half way into a body clip?
                                        *snort* guess which ones good trainers don't have a problem with?

                                        Hint: because they are not dogmatic and understand that ... of course... sometimes a horse needs to move, they allow for that in their training. They might even point out that this sort of gradual progression is entirely the point of getting to a quiet, stationary horse when the situation is less than optimal.

                                        Your crazy is showing. You might want to tuck that back in.

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