Clipper Shy

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Is your horse afraid of the clippers? Here’s a tip to help him feel completely relaxed when it’s time to clip. Remember that you will build your horse’s confidence more effectively in small incremental steps, as opposed to rushing him. Stand in line with the girth area, and put one hand on your horse’s withers (for safety) and simply turn on the clippers. If your horse reacts to the sound, turn them off, hold them further away, and then turn them on again. Find the place where he can comfortably tolerate the sound. For especially nervous horses, you may even have to stand outside the stall. Observe his reaction. When he relaxes – licks his lips, sighs or drops his head – turn the clippers off. Once your horse is comfortable with the sound, allow him to sniff the clippers. While they’re turned off, rub them all over his body. Now switch the clippers on, turn them around backwards, and slowly rub him with them again. If he reacts, always retreat and start again. Using the concept of approach and retreat, build your horse’s confidence and he will learn to like the clippers. Turn them upside down and give your horse a good vibrating rub all over. Giving your horse all the time he needs to become confident will work wonders for your relationship.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. My horse was so bad for clipping he was almost rearing even with a lip chain, something I really did not want to use. This article, although I had already thought about doing this, gave me a definite plan to follow. I’m sure it will help tremendously!

  2. I beleive that this is mostly right but there is one important error. If you move the clippers away when he reacts then he is learning that he gets rewarded by moving when the clippers approach, you are sensitising the horse rather than desensitising. The correct approach is to take the clippers away a milli second BEFORE you think he ia about to react, give a few seconds, and then approach again each time getting slightly closer without him moving. If he does happen to move you need to keep the clippers there as much as possible until he STOPS reacting and shows signs of relaxing (drops head, chews mouth, cocks leg etc.)

  3. It’s a great way to teach horses to get used to all kinds of things. I also do not move objects away but just keep them still so he can check them out in his own time.

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