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#1 RZugg

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 06:15 PM

Has anyone ever had the problem with being able to touch your horse anywhere except the ears? I can do anything with my filly except when it is time to fool with her head, you have to go slow and show her you are not going to touch her ears. Its like the big bad boogey monster is going to eat them off! She turns into a crazed problem child! I don't even want to go into what we go thru with show halters. If it buckles she is fine, if it is going over those ears you can forget about it!

Any advice on how to start breaking her from this habit of freaking out?

Note: we did not raise this filly, bought her as a yearling. Don't know if someone hurt her or if she just never learned its ok to be touched there....

#2 Desert Tag Arabians

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 07:40 PM

Honestly, time and patience is the only thing I can think to offer. The worst thing you can do is NOT touch her ears, because she will quickly learn by shying away she can keep you from doing it...thereby keeping the bad habit forever. The more you touch them, the more she will learn to accept it. I'm not big on giving treats, but if you have used to treats for training you can try giving her a treat everytime she lets you touch her ears. However, in the end it will just take LOTS of repetition.

You might also work on some head-lowering exercises first. If you can get her to the place she is rewarded for softly lowering her head when asked, then you may have a head-start on working on her ears.

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#3 RZugg

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Posted 01 June 2010 - 07:46 PM

Good idea.. She responds well to head lowering, and we are able to hood her in the winter... I guess she just has gotten away with it for so long that she thinks its ok.... Just gotta make sure she doesn't hurt herself or us when we work with her. She can get pretty worked up.

ETA: She does work really hard for us, does what we ask of her, there is just something about those ears. She doesn't even mind the clippers! Guess I just have some work cut out for me....

#4 Tricia

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 01:25 AM

I start by rubbing in favorite places and work my way closer - finally I start just slightly touching the back of the ear when I am rubbing the neck - kind of like an accidental touch. Little by little I work my way up the back of the ear until I can rub it from the bottom up, then I start bringing a finger down the front, and finally touching inside. It takes time, but I have had excellent success this way. My stallion loves it when I get way inside his ear and give it a good rub.

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#5 RZugg

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 09:45 PM

I have started working with her slowly and I can touch the base of her ear for a second before she shys away... but we always end on a good note so she won't relate being turned out or fed or whatever to acting up over her ears....

#6 Century Oak

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 11:59 PM

Be sure she doesn't have ticks in her ears, especially in the South, it can make them a little crazy about having them touched.
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#7 Tricia

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 03:47 AM

Ticks can be a real problem and cause long lasting difficulty in touching the ears! Some years back I sent a mare out for breeding and got a call saying she had gotten a tick in her ear - did I want them to have the vet remove it. I said to go ahead and assumed all was well. The day came to pick up my mare and she just calmly walked onto the trailer, I paid my bill and off we went. Luckily, I stopped soon after we left to check on her and found her with her chin resting heavily on the manger. She was drugged! They never told me, just let me drive off with her so woozy she could have easily fallen. I sat in a rest area for a couple hours while it wore off. What I found out later was those jerks never got the vet out until the morning I was picking her up and then what he did was dig down in her ear with a paper towel and his finger - whatever he did, he hurt her and although I did get her back to where I could touch her ears again, she never was relaxed about it.

That is a major factor in deciding whether or not to clip inside the ears - I refuse to do it. Scissor trimming to get the longer stuff sticking out of the ear is fine, but they need that hair in the ears for protection.

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#8 sheikh rissan

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 06:34 PM

Good luck with getting your filly to accept the ear touching and rubbing. Sounds like you have a slight improvement already.

Like Tricia's, my stallion loves to have his ears handled. He likes the inside scratched lightly, and also just where the ear opening meets the head. He also likes the very tips held and scratched. In fact, he can be a bit of a pest "asking" for this. If I misunderstand he gives me a very strange look!

Ooh.. I never considered getting a tick in the ear. As someone mentioned, you are not allowed to remove the ear hair in this country. It is against show rules, so I don't know anyone who does it at all. Sounds sensible to avoid creatures crawling in!

Again, good luck and keep us posted.
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#9 RZugg

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Posted 04 June 2010 - 10:44 PM

We did think about it being a tick, and just to be safe, had it checked out. Our vet drugged her tho, to keep from making her ear problem any worse....
There were no ticks.... and she still doesn't like her ears to be touched. If I move slowly and do what I've been doing I think we will move past the problem. She already is alot calmer about the whole situation. But it will take constant work to completely past this... if we ever do.

#10 Tricia

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Posted 05 June 2010 - 02:40 AM

Lots of patience, Rachel - eventually she will realize you aren't going to hurt her and once you have her trust it will get easier. I always talk to my horses with a lot of love in my voice when I am rubbing on them - my rescue mare isn't perfect about her ears yet, but so long as I rub her withers she relaxes and then I can whisper sweet nothings and sneak up her neck to the ears!! :) :)

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#11 ponygirl

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 03:34 AM

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#12 Abadan Arabians

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Posted 11 January 2011 - 01:49 AM

Like everyone else said, it's going to be a lot of time and patience. Obviously it's been quite some time since you posted this. HOw is it going with her? If you still have problems, here is an idea for you to try:

You have to establish a starting point. Start by desensitizing the air around her head. Wave your hands around her head, pretend you're going to flick water at her face, just do lots of that type of thing before you even think about working at her ears. If you have her lowering her head good, that's great cuz you can build from that. You can rub on her face while her head is lowered and then nonchalantly but quickly run your hand up and over her ears. Don't stop, just keep going off and down her neck and pet on her. Work on doing things like that. Just make everything like it's an accident and make it quickly cuz your hands will be gone before she even has time to react. Work on doing it front to back, back to front, over and over. Before long, you'll be able to grab them and rub. Hope this helps some.

#13 janessa

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 04:49 PM

Rub around her neck and slowly move up top, go over her ears like you've done it on accident and don't stop there, keep moving your hand around her poll and face and go over and over her ears with your hand. Don't directly reach for them, just treat it like you aren't meaning to and do this in between your lessons everyday.

#14 Jenny Lees

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 08:33 PM

I use Janessa's method just working my way up from the withers and whilst they are enjoying having their neck scratched, touching the ear gently and immediately moving back down the neck. I start this with all my foals and its not long before they run up to me in the field, stop in front of me and demand to have their ears rubbed inside and out! But that is starting with an unstressed foal not a fully grown horse that might have some "baggage".
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#15 Nadj Al Nur

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Posted 01 May 2012 - 08:46 PM

I have two mares that originally came from the same place. Both were terribly apprehensive about their ears and it took a loooonnnng time, using Janessa's method, nearly a year for the younger one, to trust that I wouldn't hurt her. She is fine with ME now but still afraid of having her ears touched by others. The older one came to accept having her ears handled but she was always very tense about it and never did really trust. I found out later that at that place it was common practice to "ear" them for many things and that one of the owners had been subsequently charged with cruelty.

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