How to overcome your horses fears of clippers
Introducing a horse to clippers takes time and patience. Many horses have had terrible experiences with being clipped. Although it may take longer to help horses overcome their fear, it can be done.
The horse’s perspective
The clippers are strange and noisy, attached to a long thick lead and they bite alittle when they touch the skin. The sounds and sensation is unregcognized for a horse as this noisy thing resembles a horse-eating, snake-like monster.
If you own a horse that is fearful of the clippers, remember that you cannot change what happened to them in the past, but you can teach them that things are different now. So, when re-introducing a horse to the clippers will set them up for success. Take baby steps, move on the next phase only when your horse is comfortable and take as much time as they need. We need to introduce the clippers slowly and calmly way.
1. To start, try hanging the clippers outside their stable door. Soon the horse will realise that they didn’t do anything. Then once they are comfortable with that you can turn the clippers on for a few minutes during the feeding time. This gives the horse the chance to change their association with the clippers from something negative (being frightened and/or hurt): to something positive (food).
2. Wrap the cord around the clippers and bring it along. Set the clippers down next to your groomingkit and allow your horse to smell and investigate it while you brush them. After a nice relaxing grooming session, hold the clippers in your hand and again, allow your horse to sniff and see what he thinks. When they are comfortable, you can try to ‘brush’ the horse with the back side of the clippers, but stay away from sensitive areas like the face, and belly. Make this part of your daily routine.
3. when the horse is relaxed with the sound of the clippers hanging outside the stable, as well as the clippers touching them, you can turn the clippers on. Just as before, start with a small area and rub the back side of the clippers over the neck or shoulder. Often horses are frightened of th evibrations of the clippers as it is a forgein feeling, and thoug they may not like it, they can be taught to accept it. The idea is to do a little bit often, keeping the horse calm and relaxed – so that next time you can do a little more. Eventually, you will be able to start to clip the whole body in one session, but as long as the horse remains calm and accepting, clipping becomes easier and quicker each time.
Horses are smart, tolerant and adaptable: and I believe with enough time, understanding and patience they can be taught to do anything!