Friday, November 15, 2013

15th November, 2013 CLIPetty Clop

Yesterday afternoon it was off to a clipping horse that hasn't been clipped without sedation for a long long time. The key words in her case all began with vowels - A for Answering her questions - is it all right to squish you against the wall? No!; E is for Emotions - her owner needs to leave them all at the gate; and I is for Incremental working. I used a massager, then an electric toothbrush, followed by battery driven trimmers and finally the big clippers. The horse may be twenty but an old (and extremely beautiful) horse can learn new tricks and discover that things she has always worried about are absolutely fine. By the end of this quietly progressive session she stood calmly accepting the noisy electric clippers with the lead rein on the floor. She will look like a patch work quilt for a few days since I have asked the owner to see how slow she can go - clipping four strokes at a time, breathing out for each clipping stroke, and then switching the clippers off again. 100 repetitions of this per session to begin with will soon extend in to more.

"I can't begin to thank you for today. There is no way in earth I could have envisaged getting that far if ever. I imagined weeks of work and then maybe having to sedate for the neck area...." TW

With kind permission of the photographer, rider and owner
Received 15.11.13 "...such a pity I could not attach a photo showing me clipping D today with no restraint of any sort other than ground tied. I know you told me not to expect to carry on where we left off, but in fact that was exactly what it felt like. She was in the same position as yesterday, I didn't have the massager or toothbrush so went straight for the little trimmers but going through the incremental stages, waiting for her to give me the signal to allow me to take off the pressure and we soon progressed to the big clippers, same process and never once did she give me any indication that she wasn't happy... I am sure you must doubt my description of the trauma we used to go through - just seeing the clippers was enough to warrant a course of Valium for her, but I have to say, it almost seemed that we were enjoying our time together in the sunshine. I must say, because of her apparent content, it was tempting to keep going, but mindful of your advice I stopped and it has helped allocating sections to do each time." TW

Received 17.11.13: Day three of clipping work - "Firstly, I put a hay net in the stable for her to munch on – D loves her hay but I knew she would only eat if she felt comfortable. Went through the processes but D just chomped on her hay, ground tied with a complete disregard of the trimmers and then clippers. So off we went and although we started off on 5 strokes before switching off, she carried on eating, eyes soft and head lowered. We soon began to think she was actually enjoying it all so here I must confess to not stopping at the stage we had intended since Dexey showed absolutely no sign of discontent. In fact, we have clipped out her body entirely this afternoon leaving the head for another day as we thought that may prove a bridge too far. The reason we kept going was because after a while, Dexey got fed up with eating and simply half closed her eyes and had a snooze while we carried on! The only time we disturbed her was actually when we stopped clipping to oil blades etc., when she would look up at us as if to say “why have you stopped? I  was enjoying that!) So I am sorry if I shouldn’t have gone on, but she genuinely seemed to enjoy it and I know Dexey will always have an opinion to air when she considers appropriate.

I am now confident that D has never been afraid of the noise or the sensation, but simply associated it with her experience of pain. How sorry am I that she should have had to endure this anxiety." TW

Received 19.11.13: "Really don’t want to be one of those owners who feel the need to give you a breath by breath account of their pony’s doings, but can’t help but tell you about the final stages of Dexey’s clip, I am so delighted and amazed. After doing some tidying with the big clippers yesterday, I used the trimmers on her face today, including all up around her ears, Just in case you think that’s quite impressive – let me tell you she was loose not even her head collar on!! How proud of her am I?" TW

The lesson for everyone in all of this is DON'T LET ANYONE CLIP YOU HORSE IF THEY ARE GOING TO TREAT IT AS A BATTLE. I am so grateful to D's owner for letting me share this experience with you - as with everyone who allows me to put their horse's story on my blog.