Last year I attempted to clip Llani but soon realised that pigs may fly before I managed to succeed. I turned on the clippers and he ran a mile!
So over last winter and this autumn I`ve tried to expose him to the clippers. Tying him next to a horse who is being clipped, and showing him the silent clippers.
We reached a point were we didn`t mind the silent clippers touching him, or standing and watching a horse being clipped. But last week when I asked a friend to approach him with the running clippers, he still wasn`t having any of it.
But I was getting closer, and a cancellation yesterday left me with a big hole in the day, so I decided to continue desensitising Llani to the clippers.
It was raining so he was a bit damp, but after I`d brushed him off his neck was dry enough that should I amazingly get close enough to actually clip him, I could take some off his neck.
I`d brought Otis in too, for moral support, and had Llani tied outside the stable.
Armed with pieces of apple in my pocket, I showed him the clippers, letting him sniff them deeply – he is very aware of new or strange smells (as seen when he sniffs deeply at the kitten on my shoulder!) He was perfectly happy to have the clippers run all over his body whilst silent, so I rewarded him with a piece of apple.
And then I turned them on. He stepped back and snorted instantly. So I waited patiently for his curiosity to get the better of him. I kept talking to him and within a couple of minutes he was eating apple out of my hand, with the clippers right next to the apple.
Thankfully, Llani likes his food!
Then came the task of touching him with them! I untied him and approached his neck with the clippers, talking all the time to him. He reversed rapidly, but I followed him, armed with the apple.
Until I ran out of cable! So I made him stand whilst I went back to unravel it. I didn`t want him to come forwards, as he was almost cornered at the back of the barn.
Frustratingly, when I turned back to reapproach him, he acted more scared than before! But I persevered, ignoring the swishing tail and waving of his hind legs.
Once he was still and stopped reversing, I managed to place them on his neck. Success!
This was as far as I wanted to get that day, but as he hadn`t flinched with the clippers on him, I decided to risk taking some hair off.
Talking to him all the time, I slowly clipped his gullet. He stood still, unflinching, so I ventured don and clipped his sternum area, and between his forelegs.
Then of course, Llani decided that the clipper monsters were back when I swapped sides. But after a moment I managed to get going.
I didn`t attempt to clip his face, as I felt that he had had a positive experience with the clippers; it wasn`t too tedious and the blades weren`t hot. He had a good supply of apples and a little hard feed as soon as I turned the clippers off, to provide some positive reinforcement for the experience.
I would have liked to have clipped a bigger bib clip, but the higher part of his neck was too damp. Next week I want to try once more perhaps venturing to a chaser clip, but I`ll need to enlist the help of a friend to hold his legs up and hold him still whilst I try to clip his belly.
This really proved to me how much Llani has come on in the last year; he`s no longer scared of his own shadow and is learning to investigate new things before running away. I think he`s really put his trust in me too.