Cowgirl - Ears

Cowgirl - Headshy

A headshy horse can be quite difficult to work with. They are the ones that jerk their faces away from contact and make it nearly impossible to halter or groom. Depending on their pervious experiences or lack of training, they may be particularly frightened with you tempt to touch their ears. Horses can be very sensitive in this area.

As riders and owners, it is important to be able to handle their ears. The bridle and halter must be able to slip over them, as well as fly masks and fly bonnets. Occasionally, there may be an injury to the area which will require treatment or maybe you wish to spray the ear to keep gnats away. Grooming and clipping the insides may be necessary for shows. Chances are you will need access to your horse’s ears at some point.

Be prepared for a slow and steady process, and if you don’t have the patience seek out a professional. You can begin getting your horse accustomed to ear touch by working in a comfortable, relaxing environment. Seek out a space where your horse isn’t threatened. This could be in his stall or field. Do not worry about a halter or means of constraint.

Approach your horse with a positive mindset. Pet your horse in an area that he is comfortable with, maybe his back or shoulder. As he begins to relax under your touch move your hand to his neck. Scratch or pet him for a few minutes. As long as he is calm reward him with a treat or praise word, such as “good boy”. Now walk away and end the session.

You will want to continue this everyday for the next few days. Let him anticipate your friendly visits. Now you may begin working your hand up his neck. Long strokes that briefly touch the top of his neck and come down to his shoulder. Work as close to his ears as you can without touching them. Over the next few weeks, get your hands closer and closer to his ears and touch them only for a second. It is essential he stays relaxed throughout the entire sessions. Back up to touching the shoulder or neck if he begins to panic.

All headshy horses progress at different speeds. As long as he remains relaxed you can begin touching his ears and than retreating with praise as you leave. Eventually he will look forward to you approaching and his daily scratches. He will build a deeper trust in you. Over time you will be able to touch and than hold his ears longer and longer.