May 19, 2010

Desensitizing those ears...

When I first got Rose she was good about having her muzzle trimmed, and that was about it. Feet, bridle path, and ears? Heck no! So over the winter, during a few long, wet, dark, muddy months, we worked on trimming with some success. As a result, at least once a month I trim her muzzle, feet and bridle path. The bridle path is still a bit of a struggle at first, until she gives up resisting and just puts her head down and lets me get on with it. Those ears though...she's not so convinced about. So, I've decided that this month is trimmer month. Every time I go to the barn to visit her out come the trimmers. Patience and persistence...that's my game plan with trimming. I managed to trim everything up except for her ears this past Sunday, so last night I decided that we would work on desensitizing her ears to the clippers.

After throwing a bit of a fit in the cross ties and impersonating a giraffe, I decided to hold Rose in hand and try to clip her that way. Her ground tying is not so great, but we are working on it. Regardless, the barn was quiet, so I didn't really need to worry about her going anywhere. I started slow, just rubbing her ears with my hands and then the powered-off clippers. She couldn't have cared less. Holding the clippers mid way up her neck I would turn them on and then slowly bring them closer to her ears. She would instantly turn into a pill. After repeating this for a while it was clear to me that she wasn't having it, and I was in no position (without a helper) to force the situation. I needed a different approach. I gave her a rub on her forehead, and then decided to try bringing the clippers up the front of her face. Guess what? She stood there with her head down and let me rub them on the front of her ears. So I tried bringing them up by her neck again, and instantly she was on guard. For some reason she's more comfortable with them in front of her face than approaching from the back. Perhaps because she can see them coming in the front? Whatever the reason, we had mild success with her accepting the turned on clippers rubbing on her ears, so I will try the front end approach again next time. Fingers crossed!

About the clippers:
I decided over the winter that I could make trimming a lot easier on myself and decided to look for some new clippers. My requirements were quiet clippers and no cord. After a bit of research I settled on the Wahl Moser Arco SE clippers. I patiently waited for their arrival from and immediately fell in love with them from the first moment I snipped some hair! Much to my relief they lived up to the hype and I have to say that they are very quiet. Nothing is silent, but I've never heard quieter clippers (unless there is a silent clipper out there...then I guess I wouldn't have heard it...deep thoughts). In addition, it is so handy to have a set of cordless clippers for this exact training purpose. If I need to spin Rose in a circle or if she needs to pee and starts dancing around in the cross ties I don't have to worry about the cord getting stepped on. Plus, I never seem to have a helper when I'm working with her, so the cord is one less thing I have to concern myself about. If you are interested in your own pair they are on sale at Dover Saddlery right now, and I think that they are worth every penny. My old set of Wahl Stable Pros, although still in perfect working condition and having never failed me after 10-years, have since been retired to the dog grooming/emergency back up clipper department.

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