I'm going to whine here for a minute.
I'm so paranoid about not messing Penn up, and not letting him get away with anything (within reason due to his lack of training!), that yesterday I had a bit of a let down. Well a lot of a let down.
I'd already been meh about our rides last week- nothing awful about them, but nothing wonderful either. The canter continues to improve without any giraffe moments. The trot... it's becoming more giraffe like. How?!?! I had a better ride Thursday where I did quite a bit of insisting that he be round, that he bend, that he pay attention, and that no, he can't run off in trot. It really did wonders and I got some of the best canter work yet. Friday's ride in jump tack was almost a disaster. I don't like flatting in jump tack.
So anyway, I had a few minutes to kill (problem 1) on Sunday, so I pulled out my clippers because Penn's bridle path was too long, and his whiskers needed to be trimmed for the show next weekend... and I always clip 3-5 days before.
I showed him the clippers. No big deal. He was interested. I turned them on a couple feet away from him (problem 2) and he promptly left the barn. He backed up quickly, hit the end of the cross ties, paused (thinking about the fact that he should respect them), then broke them (fear overtook training), and flew backwards out of the barn. He proceeded to continue leaving by ducking around the side of the barn (I had turned off the clippers and set them down by this point and was walking after him).
I caught him (he was giving me the hairy eyeball because he knows breaking out of the cross ties is bad), he got his scolding, and then back into the barn. I retied the cross tie, then unhooked him from it. No reason to continue breaking it. I put the chain over his nose (it helps stop the flying backwards) and held up the clippers again, not running. He pulled the lead rope out of my hands (thank goodness it's a ten foot rope), but the chain did it's job and he cranked himself. Cue rearing (problem 3). I cranked him for that until he wanted to keep his feet on the ground.
Back up to the cross ties, again, not tied in. I brought the clippers back up, not running. Repeat fear induced response. Repeat cranking for standing up on two feet.
Back to cross ties. This time he had a look at the clippers before jumping away, but only a step or two while keeping all four feet on the ground. When I asked him to step back up, he tried to run past me. What the hell horse? I mean, I'm happy it wasn't backing up/rearing. That's fine. I just brought him back around and reset him in the cross ties.
He mouthed the clippers (fine), I rubbed them all over his head and neck and ears and poll and he just didn't care.
I should have just stopped there. But instead, I held them way away and turned them on (problem 2 again). He stood his ground for about 3 seconds, before doing a whole body quiver and trying to leave by flying backwards and then walking on his hind legs when he hit the end of the line. I really fucking hate that. Stupid rearing crap. He's going to flip over because he's in such a hurry to fly backwards and he's got shit balance. I can walk forward and crank him so he doesn't pull against me and pull himself over. What I really need is someone behind him with a whip or something to get him forward again. Sorry, we're delving into cowboy land I'm sure, and I'm probably making some of you cringe. I don't care that he's afraid of the clippers. I care that his immediate answer to not being able to leave is rear. There's no pondering another option. He goes to it immediately.
Eventually he wouldn't get too far from me, and I'd force him to give to the chain and walk back up to the cross ties with the clippers running. He got very brave towards the end, and stood there with them running. He was quivering, the poor thing.
It was all going well until a mare decided he was within reach and bit him on the side of the head. Of course, he flew backwards, and I tried to keep up with him because that one wasn't his fault. I brought him back and away from that stall. A friend had arrived by that point and we both told him good boy, and she rubbed his face and praised him as he stood there with the clippers running a few feet away. I turned them off, let him sniff and mouth them, and rubbed them all over him again.
I wizened up and stopped there. I put him away, but I can't help but feel I lost that battle. I know this is just a baby horse learning step, and with a whole lot of time and slow work, the clippers will be no big deal.
Has anyone out there dealt with habitual rearing? I'm not interested in putting him in his stall and attempting to clip him- I feel like that's a super bad idea to corner him. I'm also not interested in making him flip himself over. He slipped on some grass and fell on his side when we were trying to load him to bring him home, and that stopped the rearing, so I imagine it would probably work, but that's too dangerous. I would rather not sedate him because one- if he does freak out while sedated he WILL fall down, and two- I don't like relying on sedation for anything. It's not always available and that's what they did to load him in the past and it didn't work in helping him to load. Any other suggestions would be nice.
I'm seriously getting a rearing complex. I dread loading him on the trailer Friday. All I can see is him walking on two legs because he doesn't want to get in. I just don't know how to reprogram this learned behavior. I'm super pissed at whoever taught him that in his past. He goes to rearing too quickly. Someone in his past opened a can of worms and never closed it, so now I have to.