Mother Nature created horses’ ears to be self-cleaning. She believed in preventing problems and not correcting them.
Browne suggests that you clean your horse’s ears “not more than once per week.” You can use a paper towel or a washcloth to clean your horse’s ears. Warm water or witch hazel can be used, but not alcohol. It can irritate or dry out the skin.
She cautioned that horses should not be exposed to water or other substances. You should avoid getting anything into the ear canal.
Browne advises that if hair falls into a horse’s ears while being clipped, he should be able to shake his head to remove most. To gently remove any remaining hair, you can use a damp towel.
Browne suggests that horses can use any product for cats or dogs to clean dirt from the outside or inside their ears.
Infections & Growths
Browne stated that ear infections are not uncommon in horses. Horses can get sarcoid, benign skin tumours that can become invasive, tumours, or aural plaques.
These growths can be very painful and can lead to an infection if they aren’t removed by the horse shaking his head.
A discharge from the ear or a foul-smelling odour are signs of infection. A horse may also exhibit unusual behaviour such as shaking his head or tilting his head if touched close to his ears.
A nasal discharge, swelling or tilt in the throatlatch may indicate an infection in the guttural pouches and inner ear. These signs can be very serious and should be reported to your veterinarian immediately.
Bites from insects and flies can also cause infections. Browne points out that although this has not been proven, evidence suggests blackflies may spread the papillomavirus from horse to horse. She recommends wearing ear-covering fly masks to prevent this.
She said, “If a fly-mask gets wet or dirty change it.” “Take it off at minimum once per day to inspect the horse’s eyes, ears and mouth.”
Fly spray is another option. Browne suggests spraying the product on a towel and then applying it to the horse’s ears.
If you live in an area with many ear mites or ticks, it is important to inspect your horse’s ears for them. Even though ear mites can be small enough to be difficult to spot, horses will often shake their heads to stop itching. Another sign is crusty scabs, which ooze fluid.
Browne stated that ear mite bites could look very similar to fly bites.
Horses’ ears can be affected by seasonal weather. For example, horses with pink skin and white horses can get sunburned around the ears. However, the upright position of their ears and hair covering the outside surface protect the skin. Browne recommended that you apply a thin layer on the inner ears with children’s sunscreen if necessary.
Browne said that ears are predisposed to frostbite in very cold weather. Frostbitten skin is very pale in comparison to normal skin. If possible, I recommend that horses be brought inside. Providing shelter for them in the pasture is a good idea if this is not possible. Add a headpiece to a horse wearing a blanket.
Deafness is Rare but Possible
Horses are not very likely to be deaf, but it is possible.
Browne explained that splash paints are those with lots of white on their heads, legs, and bellies. Blue eyes can be a combination that could make someone deaf.
Horses can be bothered by loud noises, such as machinery and fireworks during Fourth of- July celebrations. Browne recommended using earplugs for these horses. It is a good idea to consult a veterinarian if the owner has a suspicion that a horse is sensitive to loud noises. You can also manage the problem.
Browne advised that the horse be placed where he is most comfortable. It might be in the barn next to another horse. Horses are less likely to get hurt inside the barn. However, if your horse is acting out in the barn and you don’t want him to be alone, place him in a smaller paddock with another horse.
Browne suggests that horses can wear earplugs or bonnets that muffle noises at competitions and shows. However, it is important to check that they are permitted under the competition rules. Also, make sure to read any applicable specifications. Browne stated that they should be kept clean and dry and removed when not in use.
Browne said that caring for horses’ ears is “less is more”. Do not force horses to clean their ears. Gentle handling is the best. It is best to de-sensitize your horse as soon as possible. If you notice any signs of a problem, check his ears every day and contact your veterinarian immediately.