Monday, February 1, 2010

The learning process

As many of you know I do offer my services for body clipping horses before shows. Back at the end of the year I clipped a horse for another local trainer and last week I did him again since they will be going to Scottsdale for the Arab show.

While I was working on him last time, as we finished him up and clipped his ears, his adult owner learned about two important rules. One being how you don't stand in front of a horse and two, everyone on the same side. She did not get hurt and quick explanation of why, kept her out of harms way and has hopefully left an impression that will continue on with her through her life with horses. These are simple safety measures everyone can keep in mind.

When dealing with a horse who may be difficult to handle in sticky situations, the rule of 'Everyone on the same side' gives the horse an escape route of sorts. If he blows up, he will try to get away. In trying to get away he has to go somewhere. If everyone is on the left, he will go right, everyone at their head, they will go backwards, if there is a wall or door behind them they will come forwards so be prepared...

We were working on his ears and were both on the left, she was standing on the right. Had he blown up, he would have plowed her down. At another time she moved around to directly in front of him. Again, not a good place to be so I quickly explained why. Nobody wants to be in the way of a horse trying to escape- whatever their 'demons' may be.

This horse is a bit apprehensive about his ears and even under sedation can be a bit touchy and responsive. Not many horses like having their ears clipped and when you consider it tickles, the clippers are often noisy (even the quiet ones) and their hearing is a bit better than ours, it's easy to see why.

This time around he was much, much better about the whole process. He was sedated, the barn doors were closed, the world was quiet and everything went incredibly smoothly. When a horse is behaving like this it all goes so easy, fast and a better job is attained. I am proud of him and proud of his owners and trainer for the progress he has made.

His young owner has also expressed the interest in learning to body clip horses. So what did I do? I offered to teach her how. We can either use her horse or one of ours and I will be glad to show her how to get the tough spots with little to no fuss. Am I putting myself out of a job? In a way, yes! If she ever needs help or has questions, I am there to help her through it.

The way I see it, if she has the interest, why not help her expand on her knowledge. Not all of us were born knowing everything we do about riding and even those of us with talent, still need to sharpen our skills, improve our timing and learn how to recognize the desired responses we ask for.

Besides, when I am no longer clipping horses I will know of at least one person to call, that can do the job and do it right. I will rest assured while she buzzes the hair away, that she knows what she is doing. After all, she will have learned it from me.


  1. good idea , I like when people want to learn.If I can I teach what I know , knowledge,like love and friendship is meant to be shared not hoarded.

  2. Fern- teaching those who want to learn is by far, easier than teaching those who don't. That applies to everything, pretty much across the board.

    I too am still learning things. Even with as much as I thought I already knew, something pops up here and there, making me think about it and sometimes changing my ways.

  3. Great post, CNJ!

    Oh, Fern, what a great comment.
    Gawd, some of you Albertans DO have a heart.

    I'm KIDDING!

    You should do a video, CNJ!
    How to clip a horse, without making him look like a zebra.
    (That was my specialty.)

  4. GL- two to three hours of buzzing away the hair, may not be some folks idea of entertainment. Or fun! And that's the short version. Sorta, I did do the pony Kat, one year in about an hour. Tip to tail.

    It used to take me around 6-8 hours to do one horse. That doesn't include the breaks to stretch your legs, grab a drink and a snack, go to the bathroom etc.-> You or the horse. :) That was the amount time the clippers were running.

    But if that's what you want...

    And if I can master the video thing, maybe I can add a few of those too.

  5. CNJ,

    That is such a good attitude to have, you are not hoarding your knowledge and skill but sharing it with someone who wants to learn. I don't think you will have lost anything, she might not need you to clip anymore, but she might need you to do something else and you have left a very positive impression on her that will probably go a long way in referrals to others.

    Did you see the little paca blanket on my newest addition on my blog? I am thinking you could get into that aspect as part of your line. They are much easier than horse blankets and would appeal to a whole new market, Alpacas and Llamas.

    I still need to get with you about Buck's fly mask and his measurements for his super dooper Perchie blankie.

  6. My horse actually likes to have his ears and face clipped! He lowers his head and closes his eyes when I work on his nose and lips!

  7. CCC- if I am not needed for the easy ones, there's alway a need for doing the difficult horses. If she advances to doing the difficult ones, well then I can help by holding them. Your 'ground crew' is equally as important, as they allow you to focus on your job and not worry about the horse.

    NHM- I have one too that likes having his ears done. He's a pony so when he leans into the clippers and down, it's hard seeing what you're doing.

  8. Great logic. I hope she takes you up on it.

  9. And stay on the same side of the horse as your farrier. If the horse is naughty and thinking of kicking, you pull the horse off the farrier, instead of into him. If the horse goes to kick, you pull him around and the horse's butt is moved away from the farrier. If you're on the other're just helping the horse get the farrier in line for the kick.

    There really is a reason you stay on the same side of the horse as the judge in halter and showmanship classes.

  10. RR- we aren't all going to be around doing this forever. Our replacements have to come from somewhere. And who better to turn to when we can no longer do it, than someone we have trained or taught? They will do things as we have taught them, so if it's wrong we ultimately have ourselves to blame.

    And if by teaching someone how to handle the difficult horses and stay out of harms way- their body will suffer further less the wear that mine has, then it is all good and they may continue on longer than I am able to.

  11. Okay, I am jealous, they LIKE their ears clipped? Geez, when I mention this out at the barn, I think mine will pass out in horror, LOL!

    CNJ, you are right of course, but another aspect of your attitude is that you have left a positive impression on this young lady and word of mouth is SO important in business especially in the horse world.

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. I tried that at one of the barns I was at. Didn't go over really well b/c the "younger" generation really had no desire to learn.

    I love talking "horse" and learning even now. (One of the reasons I love this blog)

  14. C3D- I try to go with it if the desire has come from them. They ask, I teach. It works much easier that way. Otherwise, It's like you say- they figure you are trying to get out of doing somthing you hate doing. Which will lead to my next post...

    HP- Everyone on the same side goes for the vet too. Injecting, treating wounds, whatever- giving the horse an escape route which isn't blocked by people is a great way to keep everyone in the game. Your vet and farrier will appreciate it.

    I have to add though, there are times when there are no escape routes. The horse needs to be restrained for a reason and there are ways of dealing with this too. Sounding like another topic to post about...

    CCC- yes Kat enjoys it. He also likes me to stick my thumb down in his ears and rub all the gunk loose and clean it out. He's a bit of a freak that one. But a lot of horses out there do not like their ears clipped. For some it is an absolutely DO NOT go there issue.

    I have stood on many 5 gallon buckets, stools and lawn chairs, in cross ties and grooming stalls while my highly trusted 'ground crew' had the horse twitched, eared down on the other side and someone else had them twitched by grabbing shoulder skin, topping it off with the horse being heavily sedated and still having to work fast to get things done before they just exploded.

    It can get pretty hairy (honestly no pun intended) and when a horse has had enough, I don't care how 'roomy' your work area is, the walls and rails have a way of closing in on you in a flash. That is just not fun for anyone, especially the horses. The things they put up with from us is just amazing sometimes... isn't it?

  15. I just bought the Double K clippers. Any one else had them? I like that the power is down away from the handset.

  16. I have Double K clippers. Had them for years. My arms can get tired wrestling with the cable but other than that I love them. I find that blades last much longer with those clippers too than on other clippers.