Clipping horses is a dangerous job at the best of times. The prices these people charge is way too cheap. They deserve a medal.
Most of those that end up doing this valuable job, do so with very little or no knowledge of ‘Horsemanship’ and the use of ‘Restraints’ and it is a wonder more people aren’t severely hurt.
These days, I note that some are resorting to drugs. This is a highly questionable practice as their possession of such jobs without Veterinary prescription is illegal, they are administering those drugs without Veterinary accreditation and run a very high risk of things going wrong. Like a lethal reaction to a drug by any horse. The following litigation would without doubt, succeed and any Insurance that the clipping person had would of course be negated due to the illegality.
ARE DRUGS GUARANTEED TO WORK?
There is then the question of whether drugs work, what reactions they cause and what sort of training opportunity is being lost due to the use of them.
I have noticed over the years, that a drugged horse can explode far more violently than one without the effects of sedation. They also strike with the front legs far higher and without aim. I have also learnt that no matter what the drug is, unless the horse has a general aesthetic, they can suddenly come out of it given the fear ratio.
I do believe that drugging for control, in any matter relating to training, is completely counter productive and is in fact a shame as the successful training message is completely missed due to the psychological state of the horse throughout the procedure.
LEG RESTRAINTS SOLVES ALL!!
On the other hand, restraints such as twitches or leg straps to stop striking or kicking not only achieve success, even more than drugs but retains the message of training and re-educates the horse at the same time. The horse is conscious enough to soak up the fact that the clippers did not kill it during the procedure and an acceptance of them builds for the next occasion when clipping season comes around again.
My wife clips each season and she is a 50kg lady. She successfully clips horses that have men have failed to do. She has only required my help on one occasion. She uses the minimum to get the job done but is very cunning in the way that she goes about them.
If a horse is suspect, which lot’s are, she will start on their shoulder and do the centre section of the horse first. Then, as the horse gains confidence she goes around the rump of the horse, moving to beneath the belly next. All the less dangerous parts first and those being less likely to raise objection from the horse.
The horse that throws the front leg is probably the most dangerous of all. During clipping, this is always a big chance of happening.
To control this one, introduce a front leg strap on the leg nearest you. (See Introduction & Training of all leg Restraints.
Then she proceeds to the front legs, then the back and then up the neck towards the head area. During this time, she continually uses the advance and retreat technique of Good Horsemanship and may even leave a certain touchy area and come back to it
later. Meanwhile, if the horse gets uncontrollable, she introduces the twitch but soon backs off on its intensity as the horse settles again. (Read Twitching Horses with sophistication)
DOES THE HORSE THAT TIE UP PROPERLY?
If the horse ties up properly, solid (to the proper facility), over 70% of your problems are over. Allowing horses to waltz a handler around the yard, running away from the clippers, is just teaching a horse not to be clipped. First teach them to tie up properly and build a proper safe tie up facility and most of your problems will be over. Not only for clipping but worming, teeth, trimming, giving injections, you name it. The first successful step away from the clippers as an evasion will be the first step in training your horse not to be clipped and to increase it’s suspicion and fear in the process.
As I said, the responsible training of ‘Let Restraints’ solves all and keeps Horses and Humans safe, whilst training for the future.
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