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Is this cruel and unusual training?

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  • Is this cruel and unusual training?

    I have care right now of an 8 month old colt who is well mannered and usually easy to work with. His one demon is that he will not tolerate clippers on his upper neck and poll. You can clip him everywhere else but here. I've done the whole follow him around the stall holding them on his neck no matter what he does, but I'm getting a bit tired of my arms getting ripped out of my shoulders.

    Is it cruel and unusual to duct tape a pair of small, cordless clippers to the crown piece of his halter so he can't shake them off? Looking outside the box here, but don't want to get nasty!

  • #2
    Not something I would ever do. I would be very concerned about the youngster injuring himself in panic.
    As is our confidence, so is our capacity. ~W. Hazlitt

    Gift Hill Farm


    • #3
      Not something I would do either, if he panics he could get injured before you could intervene. If we have a really bad one, we twitch or medicate for safety and they usually get over themselves. Once you do get it done a time or two, it usually gets better. I would rather see you give him something to take the edge off than tape the clippers to him. JMO. Good luck.
      Quality Hunter Ponies


      • #4
        I would stop doing it. This is what tranqs. can help with and a twitch if it is something you have to do. He will get better about it or he wont but forcing the issue now isn't worth it. If you slow down and give it time, it generally gets better.

        I'm teaching mine to be vacuumed (sp?). One yearling didn't want anything to do with it. So we just groomed her in that area. After a week or two she would put her nose on the hose and the vacuum. Another week, and I could put the attachement on her shoulder and move the hose without her thinking it was a snake. Another week, turn it on near her, then vaccumm her shoulder....and now she is totally fine about it including her face.

        Sometimes just backing off and giving them time and letting them learn to trust you is all you need to do.

        ETA: What I mean is stop with the clippers for a little bit unless there is an absolute need (then use the tranqs). Then after a little time, go back and start from the beginning. Break it into little parts like I did with the vacuum. Do not move an inch forward until he is calm and relaxed about the current step. Do not skip steps and keep it no pressure. You have YEARS to get him good with this but it most likely will not take that long.
        Last edited by bornfreenowexpensive; Mar. 23, 2013, 06:47 PM.
        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


        • #5
          I would not do that. I can see a number of scenarios where it ends badly.

          Others may have a better method, but here is what I did. My filly loved her grain. As a yearling, she and a buddy lived out in a pasture and both were grained with two buckets on the gate. Often, when she ate her grain I would start the loud, little clippers I had while she ate. I just stood there holding buzzing clippers, gazing at nothing, and occasionally patting her. When she didn't mind that, I held them closer. Then, when she ignored that, I held them next to her neck. Then on her neck, then on her poll, then I clipped her, etc. etc. Did lots of very short sessions with minimal pressure. If she started reacting, we just went back a step. It really didn't take that long. I will add, she was already comfortable with being handled all over (including her ears).

          I would do the same thing to her buddy as well. Most of the time I didn't bother to go on her side of the gate. I didn't want to harrass her while she ate, but because I was so laid-back about it, and did the progression so slowly, she just didn't care. I never even held her. My whole thought-process was to make it a non-issue. Now, a couple years later, it is still a total non-issue. She doesn't really *like* having her ears done (doesn't mind anywhere else) but tolerates it.

          It is very nice.

          If you need to clip for something in the short term, I would use dormosedan or whatever your vet recommends.
          DIY Journey of Remodeling the Farmette: http://weownblackacre.blogspot.com/


          • #6
            Not something I would do either. I would however try an electric toothbrush to help desensitizing the area. We have worked with many problem horses when it comes to clipping and other things. Feel free to message me and I would be happy to give you some other suggestions and ideas. Good luck.
            Worth A Shot Farm
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            • #7
              Definitely, do not tape clippers to your horses halter.


              • #8
                NO. Never.

                "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by alliekat View Post
                  Not something I would do either. I would however try an electric toothbrush to help desensitizing the area. We have worked with many problem horses when it comes to clipping and other things. Feel free to message me and I would be happy to give you some other suggestions and ideas. Good luck.

                  I second this method. I had a mare that would slam her head into you if you tried to clip her so we spent the winter with an electric toothbrush going all over the face, on and in her ears, etc.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SaddleUp158 View Post
                    I second this method. I had a mare that would slam her head into you if you tried to clip her so we spent the winter with an electric toothbrush going all over the face, on and in her ears, etc.
                    I have only had a couple of the years that need me to take this route, but it is amazing how well it works. I only like to revert to drugs/twitching as a very last resort (so not opposed to it). It is all about making the experience a good one and ending on a good note.
                    Worth A Shot Farm
                    Finding the horse of your dreams, is always Worth A Shot!
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                    • #11
                      Sounds like a bad idea. If he FREAKS the hell out.... it is going to be a very dangerous situation.

                      Instead, use patients.

                      If he is wheeling around the stall and pulling your arm off – decrease the pressure to one he accepts. SLOWLY increase the pressure (raising the clippers up the neck) – REWARD REWARD REWARD any new acceptance of the clippers – make this someone he WANTS to do. Physically forcing it is hard to do with such a large animal – convincing them that there is enough positive reinforcement to accept something they aren’t that happy about is easier.

                      Back down, start over, tiny steps, have some treats and “good boy!” pats and scratches at the ready. Remove the stress (and your frustration) from the scenario, and try again going slow with positive reward.

                      I bet he will learn to accept the clippers.

                      This is the technique I use for starting my own youngsters, and retraining others – I did pro clipping for years and NEVER had to use tranq (as long as the owner was willing to give me the time to work with the horse first!).

                      (edited to add - I agree with the toothbrush. I have some small cordless trimming type clippers I use for training - not much buzz to them).
                      APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                      • #12
                        I don't necessarily cruel but I think it is dangerous and likely to give you the opposite result that you are hoping for. You may never get clippers anywhere near him ever again after something like that. Try the toothbrush or the little tiny clippers and go from there. Lots of treats and maybe a lip chain.
                        McDowell Racing Stables

                        Home Away From Home


                        • #13
                          Agree with the others...would never do this.

                          What you CAN do, is duct tape the clippers to he inside of his feed bucket and turn them on just before dumping his feed. He'll need to bump and feel the clippers as he eats -- typically his muzzle and side of his face. He may hesitate at first, but be patient.

                          Eventually, he will also associate the clippers with something good. CORDLESS, of course.
                          Last edited by sid; Mar. 23, 2013, 09:32 AM.
                          www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                          "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                          Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                          • #14
                            Agree, this is a bad idea. My horse has never. ever. gotten used to clippers and I have tried everything there is. Our solution - tranqs. (I don't think a twitch would work either and don't want to find out the hard way that it wouldn't .)
                            What's wrong with you?? Your cheese done slid off its cracker?!?!


                            • #15
                              Totally agree with Alliekat. I use an electric toothbrush as they are more quiet and when the foal is jerking around (even when they're trying to be willing just are unsure) getting jabbed with the blade of the clippers is a terrible negative reinforcement. The soft bristles of the toothbrush is much more forgiving than a clipper blade.

                              I am also not opposed to better life through pharmaceuticals (when used appropriately in conjunction w/ good training). Sometimes sedating them, clipping, and having them wake up while the clippers are still going is just enough to take the edge/knee jerk fear response away and let them relax into it. I'm certainly not saying to just use the drugs to "get the job done", rather let it be a more relaxed and positive experience so the attitude towards clipping changes.
                              Nani Lio Farm, LLC


                              • #16
                                i knew there was a reason i keep checking in on here. fantastic!
                                Hidden Pearl Farm


                                • #17
                                  I've tried the electric toothbrush method also, and it works for getting them used to the sound and vibration.
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                                  • #18
                                    I've had the electric toothbrush work well. But I wouldn't be in too big of a hurry with a horse that age, he's got a lot of maturing to do.

                                    Another way I approach it with clipper shy horses is to use my hand. If you place the clippers on your arm, the horse gets a much gentler noise and vibration through your hand, and you have much more control and can move onto the uncomfortable level at a much slower, controlled pace. And you can do it while they're eating, although I much prefer they be handled, when it's business time walking away shouldn't even be an option.

                                    I think you'd get the opposite results of what you want with that method, you may end up with a bigger clipper problem than you started with.


                                    • #19
                                      This is a bad, bad, idea.

                                      Some horses need more time to get used to clippers around the head( ears especially) I just clip where I can and take my time about the areas a horse may have problems with. It took me 2 years to gradually get to clip the ears of one horse we had. One of my current ones we have had for 2 1/2 years and I am closer, but haven't gotten it done yet. I can say that (when it is done in their timing) once they accept it you never have a problem again. We just get in a big hurry. I would use scissors for now ( if he allows it) and work slowly, only going for now where he is comfortable and ever so slowly work your way up.


                                      • #20
                                        With all the clipper problem thread that have been on COTH over the years, I've come to the conclusion that the trainer needs much more patience...or maybe the tranq, not the horse.

                                        I think that the nervousness in the handler when a horse may object just escalates the problem. They read our tension and impatience.

                                        I teach little bitty babies to get used to the feel and sound of clippers within a few weeks of birth (but not really clipping)... and it's no big deal once they know it is not a threat and winds up being enjoyable.

                                        All of mine clip no halter, nada...they just fall asleep.

                                        Paint a picture of what you want to happen and just relax, have patience, and this can be easily taught.

                                        That said, if I get a horse that has been ear twitched or drugged and the whole event has become an experience of frustration FOR THE HANDLER and fear from the horse it goes nowhere. Then teaching habituation is clearly harder with every effort.

                                        But it can be done. Patience and timing is everything especially when handler is getting frustrated and lost patience

                                        Good luck..Hope you can use some tips here.
                                        www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                                        "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                                        Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube