Dear Trainer, I have a 6 year old gelding that will not let me use the clippers on him. He acts like he is scared of them. I keep working with him slowly, and now he will let me clip his muzzle. But he still will not let me clip any further than that.
I use to use scissors on his ears but since I tried the clippers he got scared and will not let me use the scissors any more. But I can still mess with his ears. What do you think I should do so I can clip him?
Because the ears are so sensitive to noise and vibrations, what you are presently doing is the correct process. Unfortunately, it is not a fast process. Clipping is something that should have been introduced to the horse while still very young, about the same time of getting them use to the regular grooming equipment. A lot of horse owners forget that this desensitizing is actually more important than the brushing and the combing. A horse can also settle in to routine of a brush and comb because it is a very soothing part of grooming, but clipping is very threatening to them.
You know the feeling the vibration of the clippers feels like on your hands and how it vibrates up through your arm. Well just imagine how it would feel up against a part of the body that is mostly bone and has small bones in the ears that are held together with a small piece of cartilage set deep inside the ear canal. The bone absorbs the vibration and disperses it throughout the head. Believe it or not the horse feels this vibration from the tip of his mouth, through the teeth, up through the head and travels down the neck to the shoulders. He is more acceptant of the clippers on his muzzle because there is a thicker muscle between the clippers and the jaw bone. The ear’s physiological structure, having a cup like shape, acts as an amplifier. Not much different than your ear, but 100 times more sensitive.
Just keep on working little by little, he will slowly begin to trust you and come to realize that you will not harm him. I suggest you look into some very quiet professional rotary motor clippers. Another thing, exceptionally maintained clippers will allow you to clip without so much vibration and noise, they will also last longer and the blades stay sharper, too.