Are you all ears? The study of equine audiology, or horse’s hearing, has taught us a lot. From how the shape helps them receive sound to just how many frequencies they can hear, understanding how horses hear can help us build better companionship with our equine friends. Let’s dive into some horse ear facts so you can see what I mean.
How Does the Horse Ear Shape Help Them Hear?
Horse ears are not only adorable, but functional, too. The outside part of the ear (what we see) is called the “pinna”. Inside the pinna is the ear canal. Sound waves are funneled into the pinna and travel down the ear canal, eventually reaching the ear drum.
The funnel shape of horse ears help them catch the sounds around them. Their ears are also independent of each other, allowing them to move and detect sounds separately. Horse ears can even swivel up to 180 degrees! This is a helpful tool as a prey animal – they are more likely to hear a threat coming their way.
Do Horses Hear Better Than Humans?
It’s a well-known fact that dogs hear much better than humans, but what about horses? The answer is…yes! But only slightly. Horses can hear higher and lower frequencies than humans, with up to a 13,500 hertz difference. Horse vision is better than their hearing, so they rely on it more to take in information.
Horse ears are very telling of how they feel, so their body language may show that they are afraid of something near or off your land that you can’t hear. Make sure that your horse feels safe and secure when this happens. You can offer them shelter or offer a fun distraction to calm them down if they get anxious.
Common Horse Ear Problems & Solutions
Flies, Mites, and Ticks
Although hearing loss is less common in horses than humans, you should look out for some other common issues. Ticks, mites, and flies are the obvious threats – they are visible lil buggers that will bite the pinna. They can carry diseases and cause discomfort & ear infections, which can lead to bigger issues if left untreated.
How to Prevent & Minimize Horse Ear Pests
The main thing you can do to help your horse is regularly check for mites, ticks, and fly bites on your horse’s ear. You will see red bumps, irritated skin, and/or oozing scabs if they have been bitten. If you notice that your horse has been shaking its head more than usual, that is a sign that you should take further investigation.
You can spray animal-safe fly repellent, or keep your horse sheltered while flies are really bad. Make sure that the horse’s environment is clean and not an inviting place for flies to annoy you & your animals.
Frostbite In Horse Ears
If you take proper care of your horse during winter, you shouldn’t have to worry about them getting frostbite. However, if you see pale or red swollen skin on the tips of their ears (where they get poor circulation), you should gently warm them up and call your vet immediately. They will be sensitive to touch, so be very careful.
What to Do If You Are Worried About Your Horse’s Ears
If your horse is shaking its head more than usual, or you do see continuous signs of bites/irritation, do not hesitate to call your vet. To avoid more serious issues down the road, it is important to make sure that your horse’s ears are taken care of early on.
Your vet might suggest some ear ointment or another medication to help, or at least be able to give you trustworthy advice. BRD Vet Rx is happy to answer any of your questions – we love to see happy, healthy horses!