Feel like quitting

Dancing_Diva

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Following my post on having my New Forest pony used for a Monty Roberts demo last month we'd come quiet far for her.

We got to the stage where she would stand loose on the yard and let me run switched on clippers over her shoulder and withers. We then had a small set back and I couldn't catch her for a few days due to me having been doing 5 mins clipper work with her daily. Anyway we then progressed and got to the stage that she let me clip a very small patch of hair off her shoulder :)

Fast forward to today. She no longer snorts and shakes when you turn the clippers on, she'll happily stand and eat whilst your stood next to her with them running. However if I go towards her to run the clippers over her shoulder she is now trying to go for me! The ears go back and she threatens to bite me, she'll then start swishing her tail, stamping a front leg and moves on to cow kicking out at me!

I do this work outside on the yard, in a Dually halter which she knows and respects. I'm in control of her hind quarters so she cannot actually get round to kick me. I feel like giving up on her! I'm still in touch with the team from the demo and am awaiting an email back from Kelly Marks.

I know I'm going to have set backs like this, I've come this far so I cannot give up now. She's gone from a pony that I couldn't get near with clippers to a pony who will now stand there and let me turn a set on next to her. I feel now she's getting used to them she's changing tactic to get me to go away, she doesn't like them but she's learning to tolerate them. I'm not backing away when she tries to go for me, I continued this morning until she stood there and let me run them over her a couple of times. If I back off and quit when she goes for me I'm making an even bigger problem for myself.

Don't know the point of my post really, I know I'm doing the right thing how I'm going about this and I won't give up just yet. Just frustrated me, it seems like one step forwards 100 backwards.
 

LiffWee93

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I haven't got much to say, except give hugs and say I've been there.
I had a sec d who was terrified initially, got over that and just didn't like it and got angry about it and would get you.out of his space sharpish. We tried everything, the more I tried to desensitise the worse he got, unfortunately he associated it with stress. I ended up iv sedating him for clipping for my own safety and his sanity. He was fine from his shoulder back, anywhere near the front was awful!
Maybe a few sessions while the pony is doped on calmer/ sedating might stop the adrenaline spike as much and help her realise it's not so bad xxx
 

PorkChop

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It is frustrating, but don't give up you have come so far.

I think I would get an electric toothbrush and work my way up from them - with something so ingrained it is going to take some time to turn the behaviour around.

Look at it this way, clipping is not the be all and end all, I would rather have one that was bad to clip than one that was bad to load/travel :)
 

Dancing_Diva

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We've moved on from an electric tooth brush to the small battery powered clippers over the last two months.

It's going to be a long process, after all she's the worst clipper/tooth brush phobic horse Kelly Marks had ever seen! So the progress I've made is actually amazing haha!

I've tried using Dormosedan Gel which is the strongest oral sedation you can get from the vets. Ideally I don't want to IV sedate her just to clip. If I cannot over come this fear/issue over time without the use of drugs then I just won't clip her. I've gone 7 years without clipping her due to what she's like. I filled in a form for her to be used in a Monty Roberts demo and didn't think we'd be selected. If I wasn't selected I'd have just carried on not clipping, but as Kelly Marks and Monty have proved it's not in-possible, it's just going to take time. Hence why I've carried on with her.

Thank you LiffWee93 nice to hear someone else has been through the same and I'm not alone xx
 

LiffWee93

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I agree, sometimes it's easier not to bother - I didn't have the option with mine, he was such a stress head about life he would sweat after just a short ride unless it was freezing! He did get better, but it was just easier to sedate and clip once a year :) keep going :) it's a long process!!
 

ester

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Just a thought, I have an equilibrium massage pad hand mitt thing (only cost me £50) Frank treats it very much with the same suspicion as clippers (he is good to clip just braces and ogles!) I wonder if the noise and vibration on one of them would be a good addition.
Mum's mare these days is fine with the clippers near or on her. Something about actually cutting the hair/running them that way she still doesn't like though.
 

LHIS

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Maybe get one of the IH approved instructors out to help you. Like you've said if you're not careful you could make a problem rather than solving the clipper phobia. I'm sure you're aware but if you go onto the IH website you can find your closest one and contact them.
 

uncle max

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Maybe her behaviour is seasonal/hormonal/spring grass related rather than specifically a clipping thing. Does she react in the same way to any other things? Have known mares be aggressive/terratorial at this time of year, then settle down again..just a thought.
 

Zipzop

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Looking in from the outside what has happened is obvious. She is telling you in the only way she can that she does not want those things near her. She has tried leaving the situation, ie, not being caught for days. But as you have not listened, (and I'm not suggesting that you should just let her do her own thing) she is now telling you in the only way she now has available that she does not want this. Leaving the situation didn't work so now she is defending her position aggressively. I'm not a fan of clipping, I feel many horses are clipped needlessly which I'm not suggesting you are doing, but I have a section d who works in the winter once or twice a week and after a couple of winters clipping him I realised it was unnecessary so I haven't done it in years.
The question is do you really need to clip? If not I just wouldn't keep forcing the issue, if yes I'd get the IH trainer out and start back at the beginning, if she keeps presenting these behaviours you are risking serious injury to yourself.
 

GoldenWillow

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My previous horse was the most clipper phobic horse I've ever known, switching on mini trimmers within 30' of him would mean you couldn't get near him in the stable and him threatening you for a good half hour. I took things incredibly slowly and also used a sort his of clicker training. The switching on of toothbrush then clippers was a huge step and I ended up spending a few months running them whilst I was making up feeds/haynets and letting them run at a distance from him whilst he was eating to try and let him associate them with 'nice' things. It took about 18 months but by then I could clip his legs (the bit he found the worst) with him loose in the stable totally relaxed. He needed to be clipped both because of the work he was in and also if his feather wasn't clipped he was prone to scabby legs and mud fever.
 

conniegirl

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My horse was so clipper phobic that even with super quiet liveryman harmony clippers and domosedan in his system he sill reared up and put his head through the roof of his stable when I switched them on
Best thing I ever did was get the vet to IV sedate him!
It took a few times and with the vet lightening the sedation each time I clipped him but now I can clip his entire body without any sedation at all!
Legs and head are still a work in progress but tbh just getting the body done saves me a fortune! Only need to do legs and head once a year anywat
 

alliwantforchristmas

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do you really need to clip? if not I would forget it as it is obviously very worrying for your horse.

if you do then i would get learn about clicker training, I would look up Hannah Weston, as your horse needs counterconditioning to this and not just a process of desensitization as her fear is too strong.

this kind of reaction is fairly common when a horse's fear isn't appropriately dealt with. nothing has been done to make your horse feel any the happier about clippers, she has just been prevented from leaving through pain from the pressure halter. she has tried to avoid you and that hasn't worked, and now she is becoming aggressive because she is still feeling threatened but can't leave. so it doesn't matter if kelly marks or anyone else says you are doing the right thing, as far as your horse is concerned this is the wrong thing - it is still too frightening for her. So you need to find a way to break things down and go a slower, and read her body language all the time. it's not good enough if she is only staying because it is painful to try to leave (because of the pressure halter), she must look relaxed. She must be accepting calmly, not just about tolerating it. you can't progress to the next step in the programme until she is completely relaxed at the current step - that may mean you spend a week on the one step before you progress to the next if needs be.
 

EQUIDAE

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How about going about it a different way. Instead of using the clippers to clip, use the vibration to massage - they soon realise that the massage is nice and get over themselves. I'm quite a softy person but I don't like how MR and KM deal with clipper phobic horses - it seems to reward the bad behaviour. I'm more of a fan of only taking it away when they stop acting like a tit - even if this means taping a toothbrush to the end of a pole to avoid being kicked. There is absolutely nothing for the horse to be scared about with clipping (trailering fair enough) but with clipping we just need to stop pussyfooting around with them and let them get over themselves. As soon as they realise it isn't going to kill them they settle down. Only remove it when they are calm, if they are pratting around keep it there - only reward the desired behaviour.

And yes I have had a nervous horse - one who was nervous to the point of agression and would lunge, bite and kick. This wasn't just a little cow kick either, it was double barreling at the head. As soon as I actually took control and stopped trying to calm him, he settled all by himself. They take cues from you - if you are nervous and hesitant, they will be too.
 
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