19 Jan
Horse Ears

Ear Directions

The  horse's  hearing  is  much  more  acute  than  our  own.    He  has  large,  mobile  ears,  operated by ten muscles (humans have three; cats have 32), which can rotate fully, and can  pick  up  sounds  from  all  directions.    They  operate  in  conjunction  with  the  eyes.    In  other  words,  when  an  ear  is  pointed  forward,  its  corresponding  eye  is  also  pointed  forward. Tradition says that the closer together the set of the ears; the better the forward vision.   The ears are one of the best indicators of a horse’s mood, giving crystal clear messages because  they  are  so  mobile.    They  can  be  rotated  almost  180  degrees  and  move  independent  of  each  other.  Ears  that  are  actively  moving  in  all  directions  indicate  a  horse that is attentive to all around him.  Ears that are almost flaccid belong to a relaxed horse.  The ears are held forward when the horse is interested, pricked rigidly forward for anxiety, twisted toward sounds to listen, and laid back tightly against the top of the neck to show displeasure or aggression. If his ears are laid back against his head, use extreme caution working around him until he’s calmed down.

Horses have large ears that can twist almost all the way around.  The ears will tell you the direction of the horse’s attention.  They can listen to two directions at the same time.  Their hearing is very sensitive. Like  other  prey  animals,  the  horse's  ability  to  pinpoint  sound  is  not  very  precise.    He  knows the general direction of a sound; enough to know which way to run!  His hearing range is greater than ours:  55 to 33,500 hertz as compared to 30 to 19,000 hertz  (cycles  per  second)  in  humans.    His  bottom  range  is  higher  than  ours  which  means he may not hear you talking if your voice is pitched very low, and his top range is higher as well:  he may spook at an unfamiliar sound which you can't hear.

The  picture  shows  more  than  just  ear  direction.    It  also  shows  body  language.  The horse  at  the  back  is  not  relaxed;  he’s  listening  with  his  whole  body  to  the  horse  in  the  front.  The horse in front is listening to the horse behind and to the camera.

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