Like anything else, it’s easier to expose Indy to clippers when he is a manageable size. At the moment there is no need to actually clip him, but why wait to introduce him to the noise and feel when the need arises? I like to know that if something came up, an injured area that needed to be clipped perhaps, Indy will be less stressed and stand quietly.
I did not crosstie him for any part of this. As good as he is, it wouldn’t be safe or fair to him.
I started with the clippers in hand, turned off. I let him see and smell them; he obviously didn’t feel threatened by them and quickly lost interest. I then rubbed them all over his body, up and down his legs, and on his belly. I also brought them up towards and over his ears. No big deal.
I then put them down and turned them on. I put them on a surface that would not vibrate and cause a louder noise. We then walked by them, back and a forth several times. He was a little leery at first but he is pretty used to noises so he settled quickly.
I turned them off and patted him for a minute, letting him relax and telling him everything was fine. I then picked them up, held them against his shoulder, and slowly turned them on. As I expected, this was quite scary and he backed away. I turned them off and reassured him.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. He got rewarded by backing away from the scary object. I’m teaching him that if something is scary he can back away and not face his fear. Keep reading please.
Horses are flight animals. They always have been and they always will be. We cannot train that out of them, no matter what we do. What we can teach, however, is trust. Had I fought with him or continued following him around with the scary clippers, only fear would have been achieved.
We repeated the process twice more. Each time, he looked calmer than the last. The third time I positioned him with his butt up against a door, so he could not go backwards. I did not corner him in though. I gave him an out. Cornering him would only encourage him to plow through me to get away and that is certainly not something I would want!
I rubbed the clippers on his neck again, waiting to turn them on until he relaxed. He was anticipating the noise and vibration. I then turned them on and continued rubbing slowly up and down his shoulder and neck, not getting more than halfway up the neck and near his ears at all. He stood, tense, for about 20 seconds and I turned them off. He was good and that was enough. We then went and groomed on the crossties. The crossties are a familiar and comfortable spot for him, and he loves to be groomed so it was a good reward.
The second night we did the same, but with less anxiety and less backing away.
By the third night I could run them over his whole body.
Tonight, our fourth night with clippers, I had to fight back tears of pride. Not only did he not pull back once, but he actually rested a hind hoof while I ran them all over his entire body, legs, belly, and up to his ears. He was completely trusting and calm.
Definitely a proud moment for me.
“Hmm…..maybe I do need a shave….”