|Search for Clipper App on your Android phone: available in Playstore. Apple have something similar.|
A first attempt at clipping Benji resulted in him barging around the stable and so his owner, Hilary, called me in to help with his training. It was clear that she had done all of the preparation work brilliantly, getting him used to the sound and feel of the clippers. However, as soon as the clipping lady started to actually clip his hair off that's when he started to react badly. I checked all of the work that Hilary had done before we went any further. In the top picture I am using an App on Tracey's phone which has the authentic sound of clippers (and vibrates!) and you can see he is looking a little apprehensive and listening very carefully.
Since he is clicker trained, I asked Julie to click and treat him from the front while I continued with the desensitisation work which included a small pair of battery powered trimmers.
Once we were ready, we asked the clipping lady to start clipping him and she was able to do his neck and the top of his legs without any problem at all. You can just about see Julie rewarding him with a treat here - keeping it up high to enable the clippers to get right underneath. Unfortunately there was an incident later on where the clippers suddenly went from the top of his leg to underneath his tummy. Taken by surprise, Benji kicked with unerring accuracy and broke the clippers. I think it would have helped if he had been forewarned of a change of position by a deep flat touch with the hand just before the first clipper stroke. As it was, we were able to use another set of clippers to work on his right hand side and to start on his tummy on that side too. The training is always more important than the task and so we finished on a good note shortly after that. Hilary should now be able to continue with this work by doing a few clipping strokes under his tummy each day building up to more once he has got used to it.
"Thank you very much for today, it was great to see you again and I'm sure Benji was pleased to see you too - he's not that affectionate with everyone he meets! You're right, the pictures do show his anxiety which makes the outcome of your visit even more of a success and I don't mind at all that he looks a bit patchy.I will keep practising and one day you will see a picture of a beautifully and calmly clipped pony!"
TOP TIPS for CLIPS
- Act as if you have all the time in the world.
- Only do a bit at a time - blow what everyone else things of a moth eaten horse.
- Change the energy from 'must get the job done' to 'let's see what we can do today'.
- Take the pressure off the horse and the person doing the clipping.
- Consider clicker training to establish a reward for accepting the clippers.
- Prepare the horse by desensitising him to the noise and feel of clippers.
- Use a deep flat hand to prepare a horse for the movement of the clippers.
- Use a low, slow voice to reassure him.
Of course we have our own hairdresser, Nettles, back at the farm and although he seems to like everyone else's tail to be kept pretty short, his own is really long. Bit of a giveaway as to who is the culprit even if we have never seen him doing it. Julie and I got the took the barber and his clients out of the shop this afternoon for a nice spin around the inclosure. As usual they really enjoyed themselves.
On the way home we saw our favourite pony mule unfortunately right next to the B3078.