Monday, August 17, 2009


Today was a clipper lesson. This is by no means the first time he has seen clippers. Every time I clip Copy (every three weeks or so) I rub them on his shoulder and up and down his neck. I even managed to get a short bridle path clipped once when he was a few weeks old. He isn't afraid of the clippers, but in his view of the world, they share similar physical traits with biting or stinging insects, and low flying aircraft and therefore should not be allowed to get too close to his ears. For some reason, he feels the same way about me, and he certainly isn't afraid of me!

So, since his tying lesson had turned into a contest of how high he could paw up the wall, I decided he needed something to think about. First I just put my hand on his poll between his ears. That made him mad, and he tried a few times to take a good chunk out of my ribs. But, he knows he has to give in to that because I am a persistent and insistent human. He is always willing to test me to see if there is a chink in my human armor. After all, there may come a day when humans give in and allow him to continue on with his life doing only those things which seem pleasant and fun. Today was not one of those days.

After he resolved that I was allowed to put my hand between his ears (for today), I tried rubbing the clippers on his neck, then changing them from my free hand to the hand already resting on his poll. Mind you, the clippers are OFF... and cordless. But this still made him mad, and there was more squirming and biting. From there we progressed to him succumbing to me removing the clippers back to his shoulder, and turning them on and off. That is about where we usually leave off. If he will allow me to touch him with my hand holding the vibrating clippers, we call it a day. Today I was particularly determined and was able to touch the running clippers to his halter strap (which sort of cushions the vibration like my hand). At no point did I remove my hand from his poll. This took about 10 minutes, but in the end he stared sullenly at the wall while I turned the clippers on and off, and put first my vibrating hand, then the actual clippers against his halter at his poll.

With babies you have to be quick to reward good behavior, because your window of opportunity will close quickly. I took my hand off his poll, gave him a little pat and unsnapped the rope. He glanced at me in surprise..."You mean I'm done?" Whoopeeee! And away he went!


Anonymous said...

LOL! Seems like you really have your hands full with this one! I may try some of your clipping tips with my resucue that has never seen clippers before...she has been pretty good with everything else. I always enjoy reading about Ace and Gray.

SmartAlex said...

Yes, Ace keeps everyone's hands full. Today was too dang hot to do anything, so I decided Grey needed a haircut. I can clip his bridle path with no trouble, and the outside of his ears with only minor wiggling. This was NOT always the case. At first, clippers (especially corded clippers) were his mortal enemy. Four years of frequent and patient attempts at clipping and not using a twitch have paid off. I figure I'd like to show Ace as a junior horse, so I'd better get started with that frequent and patient handling now. Working as a show groom for a string of up to 18 young Arabians taught me everything I needed to know about sneaky haircuts!