Monday, November 9, 2015


Penn is clipped. No drugs, no rearing. #win

The edges are bad, by his poll isn't done, he doesn't match very well from side to side, he has lines, and there's a couple furry places where there shouldn't be (elbows, bottom of the flank, behind the ears for a couple inches), but he is clipped!

I've never seen this type of blanket clip used before, but Karen at Contact did it to her horse and I loved it. So Penn matches!
Thursday night I rode for a short time and then decided to do another round of introducing him to the clippers. I started by turning them on and having Penn walk circles around me right in front of them. If he stopped, I flicked the whip at him. If he looked at them and brought his shoulder in at me, I'd tap him on the shoulder.

This really only worked for so long. When I stopped him to show him the clippers he was still hell bent on leaving the barn, or backing into the metal stall latches (we had one do that... He needed a bunch of bum stitches). While Penn would stand in the vicinity of the clippers with his butt to the wall, he was happy to back up and run if he was in the aisle as if in cross ties.

Trainer was still at the farm arranging blankets and took pity on me struggling to work a lead rope, whip, and clippers at the same time. She worked the front end of him, and I worked the back end. I stopped him from backing out of the barn by flicking the whip in his general direction any time he gave a backwards step, and she stopped him from running forward.

I'm pleased to say, he'd rather run forward now. Only pleased because forward doesn't involve rearing. By this point, I'm sure he's still afraid of the clippers, but he's also falling back into old behavior patterns of "Oh, if I act up enough, you're not going to make me." It is a fine line. He's worked out that rearing isn't a good answer anymore, but now he's decided the blowing through you is a better answer (still dangerous behavior).

Between us, we got him to stand in the aisle like a normal horse and accept his face being clipped. She just rubbed him all over with the running clippers, then slowly trimmed his whiskers and under the jaw hair. He dropped his head in that "ok, I'll wait for you to be done" way and relaxed a little. He was good and got lots of cookies when we were done.

"Mom, I'm going to stand just like this, bum next to the wall, so you can't make sure both sides match at my tail."
I decided to come out to the farm Friday night and continue our clipping lesson since it seemed like a good idea to do it two days in a row.

Trainer suggested I clip him in his stall because then he couldn't leave. She warned me that if she finds any hair in the stall, she'll kill me (only because it's annoying as hell to sift out). We have rubber mats in the stalls so I took all of his bedding and piled it in the back left corner. We don't keep a sawdust pile - instead sawdust is dumped by dump truck down the barn aisle and each stall gets a huge pile up against the back wall, then it's removed as needed. I love this method. Anyway, I had to move all of that bedding to the back corner as well because he was keen to stand in it to escape from me. Should have gotten a picture, oops!

I tackled the right side of the neck first. Man, he tried everything to get out of it. He backed up until he was hock deep in saw dust. I pulled him forward (because I can't clip into all that dust) and reset him at the front of his stall, where he proceeded to try and run laps in the stall (cue that lovely chain). After a couple rounds of no backing up, no running through me, he stood there and just trembled for a little while. Sorry buddy :( At this point, I'm not sure how much is fear and how much is the old habit of not having to face his fears. I rubbed him all over his shoulders with the running clippers, then slowly clipped his chest and shoulder and neck. I stopped and gave him cookies and a break, and he relaxed quite a bit.

I tried to reset him to finish the right side, and he wouldn't, so I did his entire left side up by his stall door. He's much more confident working from the left side than the right. I'll have to work on that.

He got a break while I cleaned the clipper blades and gave him cookies, and then reset him for the right. He threw the same tantrums he did when we started, except I was able to get him to a point where if he wanted to eat his hay, he could. He tried, but the clippers were too distracting. I got partway through the right side when I realized my clipper blades were starting to dull. I hurried up and finished the right side vowing to order new blades and fix all the edges then. He also had his butt pressed into the back wall, so evening out the clip by his tail was out of the question.

By the end of both sides, he had his head down and a hind hoof resting.

He got lots of praise and good boy cookies, and I think next time I'll drug him. Since I know he'll give up on trying to leave if he's clipped in the stall, I want to give him something to help him relax so it's not such a terrifying experience. I was concerned he'd become a sloppy drunk and risk falling down in his attempts to get away from me, but I think he'll just put his head down and ignore the clippers. That'll let me put him in the middle of his stall and even up the clip pattern and fix the edges and get the couple places I didn't want to risk with dulling blades.

Hopefully drugging him will help with the hypersensitivity that he finished with. I took him back to the crossties to brush him with a soft brush and put his blankets back on, and so I could clean up his stall and put it back the way it should be. He just barely stayed in the crossties and was hypersensitive to any stimulation- someone who came out to the farm to brush her horse, pats on the neck, etc.

I feel bad for him- he's gotten a ton of life experiences in a short time, but he does need to know that he has to agree with whatever I want to do... whether it's loading in the trailer, walking through a puddle, standing in the crossties to be tacked up, or being clipped. I stayed away from clipping triggers like the ears- that's not a fair question until he's relaxed with the rest of it. I'll keep trimming his bridle path and ear hair with scissors. To be honest, as long as I kept my free hand on him, he was never surprised or jumpy about the clippers and just didn't care about any of the normal ticklish spots (flanks, belly).

Overall, Penn took round 4 with the clippers very, very well, all things considered. We had minor discussions (even if they sound bad up above), but I was still able to get my job done. It's not up to my normal standard (plus I hate trace clips now that I've been body clipping for a couple years- I used to very carefully plot them before clipping any hair so they'd be perfectly even and well, perfect). I'll give him a couple weeks to chill while I wait for my new clipper blades to get here, then I'll clean everything up and go over the whole thing with fresh blades Thanksgiving week before the show on 11/29 and hopefully a clinic with the German Riding Master on 12/1.

Back to nomming, sans hair! He needs a mane pull.


  1. he looks good - glad he accepted his fate mostly gracefully ;)

    1. I love clipped horses. They look so nice (partly because they look like their summer selves). It pained me not to full body clip him. Part of my "meh, I'll fix it later" was probably because if I screwed up enough, I can just say, "Screw it, he's getting a body clip!" Between just being broke to ride this year, and needing a bit of time to relax so he won't be working as hard as much, I don't want to body clip him.

      He'll get better about accepting his fate gracefully. He's only been with us a short time and I have to remember that... very rarely have I found another barn as strict on the horsey behavior rules as we are.

  2. That'a huge progress! Glad Penn is learning so many things.

    1. Yes it is! So proud of him for taking it like a grown up horse.

  3. He looks great! Very sporty looking. Such a handsome guy.

  4. Go Penn! He looks awesome, I love that clip. I'm not quite ready to take any hair off of mine juuust yet.

    1. Haha! Thank you! I think yours will be much more exciting... or maybe he just won't give two hoots. I feel it could go either way!