dancing horses

dancing horses

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Steele learns about clippers

As you know any show horse needs to be spit and polished groomed. This way the judge can see how truly beautiful they are rather then infer it from beneath all the mud.
what? it's good for my coat!
He does enjoy the grooming so it's time for him to get used to clippers. Irish is very good about clippers and always has been. Except for his ears. No matter what I tried to get him used to it didn't work. So I use a twitch. Saved us loads of aggravation- put the twitch on and 60 seconds later the ears are done and the twitch is off.

I brought out the clippers and put Steele in the cross ties. I gave him a groom and turned them on. He was curious and a bit wary. I slowly and calmly brought them closer. He cocked an ear at them and looked a little dubious. What I have learned with this horse is that hesitation leads to resistance. So does rushing. But quiet and steady works very well.

I started by running the back of  my hand along his body with the clippers turned away.
He shifted a bit  but was not alarmed. I did both sides. Then I turned my hand over and ran the body of the clippers along his neck. Again he shifted but realized that it didn't hurt him. I slowly ran it along his body and then down his legs on both sides. Every 30 seconds of so I told him how fabulous he was and gave him a piece of carrot. That it made it much more interesting. 
After a few minutes I ran it up towards his head. I saw him tense but before he moved I brought them away. I repeated this, each time getting closer.  Again repeating with the carrot.

When this became old news I brought the clippers to his head but didn't touch him with it. He backed up but I ignored this behaviour. Instead I brought out a carrot. I held the piece of carrot about 3 inches from the clippers. He was so cute- trying to be an elephant and take it with his lips but not come near the clippers. I didn't say anything, just waited. I knew that he can't really resist a carrot. After a bit he took the carrot. I repeated this a few times until he would take the carrot with no hesitation. Then I moved the clippers closer and repeated. It took a lot fewer trials this time. Eventually I held the carrot and clippers side by side so when he took the carrot he felt the vibration on his muzzle. His face was adorable every time they touched him- 'oooh that tickles' and he would wrinkle his lips.

Then I pulled the carrot treat away and just held the clippers. Because he had been taught to touch a target by his original owners, this task was not new. I just waited and he touched the clippers for a second. I gave him a treat right away. In a few trials I got him to touch the clippers and hold his muzzle there to a count of 3. I then turned them off and put them away.

It would have been easy to push it a bit farther but what's the hurry?



  1. Many years ago, I was invited to a horse farm. They would be hosting an event for the Workshops that I offer on the land. I was very excited to go and be with horses.
    Without a long story.....the experience traumatized me. To witness and hear how those horses were being treated was beyond my comprehension. It was like the Universe was saying to me...."welcome to the horse world Selina!" I hand no idea such things were being done. Reading your post today, helped put that awful experience behind me. Horses are such sensitive creatures generally.

  2. thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I am sorry that you saw something that disturbed you. Many horse owners are caring but, as with anything, not all are.

  3. He is so gorgeous! Sounds like he did great with his first session. You know... I just realized I never introduced Chrome to clippers... oops. I don't really plan on showing except maybe once or twice in a schooling show, so it probably isn't that big of a deal lol. I'm glad Steele did so well.


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