|what? it's good for my coat!|
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?