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KLM

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Hello All, and Happy March!

With March brings the start of the show season for many of us. For me, I was planning on showing my gorgeous gelding in AMHA and AMHR shows this year. My goal was to show him as an "AMHA Super Amateur Gelding" meaning he shows halter, obstacle, hunter and driving. Well realization hit quickly that he would not be ready for driving in the ring this year as his trust issues have not been completely resolved and I am not about to risk him, myself or any of my competitors if something went amiss in cart. (He spooks without warning)

I had decided the best thing for him and me would be to get him out there and show halter and obstacle and just let him get used to the show atmosphere this year and move on to driving next year. He is driving at home now, but no where near safe enough for a public ring. Now enter problem number 2. I can't get near his ears with the clippers. I can clip him all over, face, legs, and even the boy private area, but if I ever touch his ears while the clippers are running he freaks out. I have spent the past year and a half getting him to trust me touching him and the ears have always been an issue, but I really didn't think it would be this bad.

For some background info, I bought him from the breeder at 2 1/2. Up to that point he had never done anything but be clipped and shown to prospective buyers. The photos of him were clipped photos and he was clipped when I bought him. I bought him in August 2011, gelded him the same day and brought him home. He settled easily and most of his trust issues were resolved within a few months. Then I got a new job that required me to be out of town on trainings for the better part of 2012 and he went to a back burner and was just pet and loved on by me when I was home. My goal was always to "touch" his ears every time I played with him and always lots of praise and cookies. In December I put him in a stall and started working with him daily in preparation for the 2013 show season. He has come along very nicely, but yes, there are still periods of freaking out and just general tenseness. I thought about putting him on a calming supplement to see if it would help, but really hate going to artificial methods. I absolutely refuse to have him tranquilized every time there is a horse show as I feel that is just more stress on his system being drugged and clipped anyways. (I did have his teeth floated in December and had his ears checked while he was sedated... he still, even thought sedated freaked out while the vet examined his ears.)

So... thoughts or advise??? Should I avoid showing him again this year and just work on the issues and aim for next year? I plan on him being my show gelding for a very long time. I want him to be happy and the last thing I want to do is cause ulcers from stressing him out that much. I don't believe he is a complete lost cause, but I am very frusterated.

Thanks!


Pics of him below

biggie2.jpg

biggie3.jpg
 

miniponyparties

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He's very pretty!

I would work with him a little more.......and also make sure he has other people work with him!
 

Riverrose28

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I can't comment on the driving issues, but we owned a mare, has since been sold, that no matter what we did, and she was a Champion in open, Ametuer, and Youth, we had to twitch her for her ears. Getting it on was also a battle, so I feel for you. Sometimes the best show horses just have a problem with certain areas. We worked with this mare for years and never got her to accept the clippers near her ears unless totally restrained with a nose clip. She was an excellent show mare and would show for even little kids, but was a real bi___ if you got near her ears. On the other hand I've worked with some using lots of patience and gotten them to accept clippers with no problem. I think the best time to start is right after they are born and bonded with Mom. I try to start mine really early. I just had a colt born the end of Feb. and already I'm rubbing his ears, so that when I bring Mom in for a neck clip, after the weather warms up, I'll introduce him to the clippers as well. Now don't get me wrong, I won't do his ears, just a little on his neck, then the next lesson on his face, I'll get to the ears after several sessions and use lots of praise, pets and have an assistant to hold in their lap. All of the ones I've bred and started this way have been angels for clipping. I would recommend you get a nose clip and try that, you will need a helper. Good luck with this project, as for the driving problems, sounds to me like the horse just might need more confidence and practice at home.
 

MountainWoman

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You mentioned you put him in a stall and are working with him but he still has times of tenseness. Is that in relation to the clippers or in general? If he's having issues with the clippers, I personally highly recommend clicker training and working with a clicker training who knows what he or she is doing. Operant conditioning works well in issues such as fear of clippers.
 

KLM

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MountainWoman, His times of tenseness are off and on and have been since I got him. To say I pulled him off the ceiling when I got him home for the first time would be an understatement. He is calm and relaxed during clipping UNTIL I get to his ears. Some days I can walk into his stall and he is fine, others he rushes to the back waiting for some sort of torture that I cannot name. On the tense days, you can literally feel it when you touch him. Every muscle in his body is TIGHT. When that happens, I talk to him and pet and brush him until he relaxes then turn him out. He gets turnout daily and goes back to his stall at feeding time on his own. Other times we can be in the middle of an awesome relaxed work (any type of work, halter, obstacle, driving) when for no known reason he leaps sideways and tenses up again. There is no common denominator to the "freak outs" as I call them. As for people, He trusts me most of all. I am the only one who can catch him in the field. My son used to be able to work with him, but not recently. He can pet him, but thats about it. My thought of showing him halter this year was based on his fear of people being on both sides of him at once. I figured that could be a problem in the show ring... especially in cart.

His issues are not discriminate. He freaks out just as easily in halter as he does in cart and vice versa. I fear that Riverrose28, you may be right... this may be something I have forever. One setback we encountered was during leading him from the paddock last summer. He and I both got stung by wasps that were in an unseen nearby nest. He blamed me for that attack and it took weeks before I could walk up to him again.

I will try clicker training. I have been interested in it before, but have never tried it. Sigh... he is so pretty and tries so hard. When he works you can see he is happy. He really enjoys having new things to do... until the boogie man comes!
 

eagles ring farm

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I agree with Riverrose about a twitch but you may also want to try cotton in the ear you are clipping to muffle the sound . We had a colt that was the same and I showed him for 3 years and as a yearling and 2 yr old I did this and it worked well just clipped right up to the cotton and he was ok

I think by the 3rd year he was good enough not to twitch.

He was always fine with the rest of the body clipping although with the bottom of his legs we had to hold up the opposite leg to keep him from constantly pulling the leg getting clipped away from the clippers
 

shorthorsemom

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I have a boy who was awful.about clipping his ears and bridle path. I spent hours worklking on him with the clippers not running. He got treats for calm behavior. Then I did hours with me "humming loudly" while running the clippers over him while they were not running. Again treats for calm behavior. I then started him getting used to the clippers running noise and while I held running clippers..I ran a brush over him. I stroked his ears and rewarded for calm behavior. Long conditioning.. reward for remaining calm. He accepts clipping everywhere now. It was well worth the time I invested in the incremental clipper training. They sell special ear plugs for horses who are sound sensitive. Not sure if they come in mini size. Best wishes. Equifit and foam balls are two types
 
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rubyviewminis

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I agree with shorthorsewoman, training, and clicker training may work for you. I have started using a long handled vibrator from Wal Mart along with training and it works every time. He might also need a chiropractic adjustment along with the training.
 

targetsmom

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I am really puzzled by this, as we have several relatives of this gorgeous boy, and some - but not all - of them also have trust issues, especially around the ears. The dark eyed ones are fine, but the blue eyed (splash) ones have trust issues. And "trust" seems to be the issue, even for minis treated exactly the same way - from birth - as all our other minis.

Here is what we started doing this week with our yearling colt with trust and ear issues and it might help almost anyone. I seemed to recall that there is an acupuncture point at the base of the ear (and even if I am wrong, please hear me out) so we worked on the left ear first. Someone held the horse's head from both sides of his halter, either in a stall (first day) or out in the open. I started up his neck, touching him in places he didn't mind until I got near the left ear, when he tried shaking me off. But I persisted until I could touch the ear and then started rubbing it at the base and closed the ear so I could massage the whole ear. The effect was amazing! He stopped fighting, relaxed and dropped his head, his eyes started to glaze over and he started chewing. Once this happened it seemed like I could go on rubbing his ear forever. The first day I just stayed with the left ear but yesterday I went from the left to the right (still from the left side) and he again relaxed after just a moment of tenseness. The effect is so dramatic that we plan to keep this up every day! It does seem to work best with two people, and when the colt drops his head and relaxes he likes to put his head up against the person holding him, which is fine with us.
 
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wildoak

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Targetsmom, love it when things like that work so well! I use a lot of TTouch too, can be very calming. KLM, Linda Tellington-Jones does a lot of ground work using a maze which sort of refocuses the horses brain. I've used it on big horses and minis with trust issues, and it does help. I use PVC poles and lay out a maze ... take your time going through it, use a chain if need be so you can have a lighter touch on the halter, and spend 10 minutes or so at a time on it. She may have some information online about setting it up, it's also in her books.. not complicated, I just include lots of stops, turns both directions, backs.. it does actually change the horses brain waves and slow down the reactive thinking. Won't help with the ears specifically but might help with the freakouts. I've had a couple of big horses who were ear/clipper phobic... it's a hard problem to solve.

Jan
 

targetsmom

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Wildoak- Funny you should mention the PVC ground poles because we used those yesterday too, although not in a maze! That seemed to help him focus, which as a yearling colt he often needs help with. As you can guess, he gets handled frequently, but only for short periods of time each session.
 

rabbitsfizz

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I have a coming three year old colt who is a head case over ears- and you can't twitch him, either- it is actually more trouble to twitch him (and this includes a peg on the lip) than it is to clip him without ! I scissor his ears off, which he will just about tolerate, and then do everywhere else he is hard to clip- haunches/ lower legs and he is not too happy about his belly but accepts it- then do his ears last of all. I am going to try the ear massage thing tomorrow, I am pretty sure there is more going on than meets the eye with this one as his mother was the same and so was his grandmother....
 

wildoak

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Funny how some of those things seem to pass on from one generation to the next... nature vs nurture.


Jan
 

Marty

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I have some that are super bad about having their ears clipped. I do use a twitch if all else fails first. Its fast and over before they know it. I also use mustache clippers that fit perfectly inside the ear, cut closely and are a lot more quiet than anything else.
 

Renolizzie

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This is an interesting thread. Wiseguy hates having his ears touched. I have been working with him. He still doesn't like it. I'm going to try the massage behind the ear:) Couldn't hurt.

I don't clip him but I have thought about getting out the dog clippers just to get him used to the idea. He sheds nicely and I don't show him.
 

Sandee

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Lots of work with him in all areas not just the stall ( sounds like you are). Obstacles can help with developing the horse's reliance on you for leadership. If you can get his trust, you've got him for life. I like the idea of the ear massage although I've never run into this problem myself. I've been ?lucky enough to be able to touch the ears on all my guys. The ones that were a bit sensitive have gotten over it with multiple clippings over the years. I also use small clippers for the ears (Wahl Pocket Pro).

If he's only a yearling, he won't be ready to even start driving until 2 1/2 or 3 yr old. You can't show him driving until his third year.

Just be patient and persistant when you work with him. Good luck.

Oh, and my opinion, on showing. If you want to show him this year, start slowly trying to clip or trim the ears and go show. I love showing!
 

KLM

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Hi Everyone!

First I want to thank everyone for their advise. I LOVE this forum because I know the answers are here... or will be here soon.

A revelation came up and we found out Biggie is completely deaf in his left ear and partially deaf in his right. (Sadly I wish he was completely deaf as I think life would be so much easier for him to not hear the occasional scary sound)

I managed to get the outside of his ears clipped and took him to a schooling show this weekend for exposure. He was a trooper. Acted like he had been doing it his whole life. He LOVED it! Wierd, but true. He spooked a couple of times but for the most part he was just curious about everything going on around him.

I changed my way of handling him, making sure he see's me give him a cue and not relying on him hearing the command. What a difference!

Now that I am armed with knowledge, I will continue his training. He loves doing obstacle courses and I believe I will just forgoe showing him as a halter horse and show him performance and driving instead. I dont NEED to clip the insides of his ears for performance, and I know I can clip the outside and trim the front with a lot of patience.

Thank you again everyone!
:)
 

targetsmom

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Please share how the hearing test was done to find out about his deafness/partial deafness. That could still be an issue with his relatives that we own.
 

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