What does the play say in the ears of horses?

A horse’s ears are measures of mood: they reveal how a horse is feeling. When dealing with us, we usually view our animals’ ears as a matter of course. And while riding? Sure, the look runs through the horse’s ears. That’s how we learned it. New studies and the experiences of famous trainers show the following: it is worth consciously observing the position and movements of the horse’s ears from the saddle. What do eavesdroppers reveal? Listen well.


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What signals do horses give with their ears?

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The ears are not on the same level

Look at the ears to check the horse’s position. If the horse is positioned correctly, both ears are at the same height. One ear deeper than the other? Then the horse leans at his neck. Coach Dr. says. Tuuli Tietze from Langelsheim (www.smartreit.com). For example, if the right ear droops down, the horse usually does not push forward enough with the left hind leg. You can compensate for this by swinging the horse’s left seat bone and thigh diagonally to the right toward the deep ear on the outer flexible bridle.


Playing by ear while riding

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The horse must pay attention to the rider.

In full flow: swaying ears hanging

Is lateral drooping of the ears a cause for concern? Is the horse limp? Tuuli Tietze says, “I often see it with my testicles in. It shows me that he is completely satisfied with himself and in the flow. Not turned off, but in full bell with the rider, focused and awake.” Train horses up to Grand Prix level. Her ‘Sir Kew’ shows floppy, thumping ears. Even in strenuous lessons such as the larynx. Many other horses flatten their ears. How did Tuuli Tietze do it?


A dressage trainer has taught a horse that more energy is not related to stress. “Q shows more foot strength in the piaffe, but not more tension,” says Tuuli Tietze. “Tension always has a negative connotation for me. I want focus in flow and easy relaxation – this is reflected in playing his ear.”


The way horses express their well-being can vary. The more you pay attention to the ears, the better you will get to know the horse. Tuuli Tietze Harry’s horse ears are not wobbling. “He beats his ears when he’s with me in the flow.”


Ears point to the side longer

If the ears are lateral, i.e. on the side, riders should prick their ears – especially if they remain that way for three minutes or more. Investigation by Lara Piccolo, d. Katherine Kinnapfel and Iris Bachmann appear at the Swiss National Stud in Avenches with 14 Frieberger stallions: a fixed lateral ear position is often associated with tail fluttering – ie, conflict behaviour. “So this ear position can be a sign of stress and discomfort,” Piccolo says.


Still ears – an alarm signal

A horse’s ears naturally resemble antennae and are always on the move in search of reception. On average, 25-30 ear movements per minute when riding a horse – this was the result of video analysis by biologist Lara Piccolo. Alarm signal: Rigid ears move little or not at all for more than a minute. This can indicate stress, pain, or discomfort.


Excessive movement can also indicate stress. A biologist advises: it is better to become a researcher yourself. Calculate the horse’s ear movements per minute while riding – in various situations such as stretching, trail riding and even hard lessons. “This way, riders get to know their horse better, and deviations in ear movements are more likely to be noticed.”


Is your right ear with you? So that’s right!

Hello my sweet little horse – How are you? If a familiar person talks to a horse in a friendly manner, the horse’s right ear will usually move in the direction of the person. “There are many studies on this subject – this applies to horses free on pastures and perhaps also to horses when they are riding,” says Lara Piccolo.


Researchers have even observed this phenomenon in dogs. They associate movement with the right ear and positive emotions. Be careful the next time you greet your horse. Lara Piccolo observed with horses riding her knee: the more horses that move their right ear, the less pronounced the behavior in the mouth area. So you seem satisfied.


Bounce ears? Well jump!

Will the tape fall off or stay in place? In jumping horses, this reveals the position of their ears in front of the take-off and above the obstacle. Canadian researchers at the University of Guelph have discovered that horses that prick their ears usually jump over an obstacle without making a mistake. The ears are big and the shafts get stuck. Pricked ears are a sign of attention. Then after that: sharpen the eavesdropper.


ready for pick up? Ears give it away

“When working on the ground and when riding, I want to enter into a dialogue with the horse – and be understood. The horse must consciously perceive all my occasional influences, aids or vocal cues and then have an impact on the road,” says trainer Peter Kreenberg Sandberg of Bavaria (www.peter -kreinberg.de): Before giving a signal or help in a training session, the trainer checks whether the animal is alert and receptive.


The guide or jockey must have an eye and permission for this. The trainer performs this ritual when working with the horse. He first tries to get attention with a light touch, such as tapping the horse with his calf, playing, or rocking the bridle. “Out of the saddle, I don’t see the horse’s eye, but I can see the ear. If you move toward me, my horse is open-minded and appears willing to cooperate.” If the horse does not respond to touch, he may reinforce the signal with his voice.


The horse no longer has to constantly point one ear in the direction of the rider. “It can and should also be outwardly directed sometimes. But I always have to be able to get my attention again.” All a coach needs to do is flick his ear. It is also possible that one or both ears will turn towards the rider – and then back again. “I don’t have to be able to look at the earmuffs. The tilt is enough.” With focused work, most horses will put their ears back a little longer, but this does not have to become permanent ears.


When the ears are pressed is a routine

Once the rider rides, the horse flattens its ears. “I know horses for which this is a routine from past experiences,” says Peter Kreinberg. Then the horse stopped smiling. The task in this case: start from scratch and return to the dialogue (see Prepare to receive). If the horse listens, the stuck ears will release – and often the whole horse will also release.


“The mental and physical level are linked,” says Peter Kreenberg. He also does TTouches with these horses, gentle touches according to Linda Tellington-Jones. Gently stroke the horse’s ears from root to tip – without twisting them.


Ear guidance for passengers: What researchers know about these ear positions

What are the ear conditions associated with stress? Scientists found that:


Both ears forward:

Playing by ear while riding

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Both ears are facing forward: two pinnaes point forward, ears are erect. It can be a sign of contentment with moving ears.

Both ears forward, slightly sideways:

Playing by ear while riding

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Both ears are forward, slightly sideways: the tip of the ear points forward, the ear is slightly aligned to the side. The study, conducted by researchers led by Piccolo, showed no relationship to controversial behavior.

Both ears side to side:

Playing by ear while riding

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Both ears are laterally to the side: the ears point laterally toward the ground, while the tips of the ears point to the side. It is often associated with contentious behavior such as tail slapping.

Both ears are laterally developed:

Playing by ear while riding

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Both ears are located laterally backward: the tips of the ears point slightly back, and the pinna slightly to the side, as in a short menacing. In Piccolo / d. Kienapfel has not shown any association with a particular mood.

Both ears are facing backwards:

Playing by ear while riding

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Both ears are directed backwards: the rider sees both ear cups. The tips of the ears point back. The contestant can listen to a contestant’s behavior then without conflict. Depending on the intensity, facial expressions, and conflicting behavior that occurs, it is also a sign of restlessness/aggressiveness.

directed differently:

Playing by ear while riding

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Different directions: the ears move independently of each other. Example: one ear is turned more forward and the other is backward. There was no association with conflict behavior.


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