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    The practice of placing cotton in your horse's ears has been discussed on the nerve line thread. Looks as if the topic needs its own thread. Any other stewards wish to comment? How about the judges out there? We all know plenty of horses who are shown with those fuzzy color-coordinated "bunnies" (is that what you call them?) inside their ears. I don't have a problem with it. I think most judges don't have a problem with it. Is it "legal?" I've got an e-mail into the AHSA and will let you know if I receive a concrete answer.
  • Original Poster

    The practice of placing cotton in your horse's ears has been discussed on the nerve line thread. Looks as if the topic needs its own thread. Any other stewards wish to comment? How about the judges out there? We all know plenty of horses who are shown with those fuzzy color-coordinated "bunnies" (is that what you call them?) inside their ears. I don't have a problem with it. I think most judges don't have a problem with it. Is it "legal?" I've got an e-mail into the AHSA and will let you know if I receive a concrete answer.


    • #3
      Thanks for being so proactive on this issues, Laura! I am very interested to hear your reply from the AHSA. This is the first I have ever heard anything about ear stuffing being illegal. I just can't imagine it to be true since so many people do this. Again, thanks for jumping on this. I look forward to reading what you find out.


      • #4
        Can't wait to hear - no pun intended. I am a dressage rider and the use of ear plugs is specifically forbidden in dressage (check the rule book).

        I've groomed a few times at H/J shows and am always suprised at the number of horses who go with ear plugs.


        • #5
          Thank you for starting this thread. I just cannot believe that anyone sees anything wrong with stuffing a horses ears.
          "All life is precious"
          Sophie Scholl


          • #6
            I am totally for the use of earplugs or those little fuzzy things (I'll call them earbunnies!). I feel that we would loose many of our top hunters. Not every horse is quiet enough to go around without them. Also, would you rather the horse be lunged into the ground or have a piece of cotton in his ear? My trainer has a 12 year old horse, one of the fanciest and most made things I have ever seen, and he will still not take that horse into the Hunt Center in Raleigh without earbunnies.


            • #7
              I stopped reading the nerve line thread, so I didn't catch that discussion. Why would ear plugs be abusive? I don't get it. Some horses (mine included) are very sensitive to sound and are less nervous in the ring w/ plugs. People wear ear plugs all the time to sleep/mow the lawn/etc. Why can't horses?


              • #8
                Interesting thread - frankly, I think changing the judging standards to allow some head play would be a better solution than earplugs. Just a FYI - I own a horse that had been shown in earplugs before I bought him, and now he does not allow anyone to touch his ears at all - it made him totally paranoid. He finally allowed me to put a fly bonnet on him (took about a year!), but earplugs? No way. I have also seen/had horses disturbed by the plugs to the point of constantly shaking their heads. Defeats the purpose, huh?

                My point here being, you must be careful if you are going to use them - and perhaps, like many other devices we have discussed, they are overused.
                co-author of 101 Jumping Exercises & The Rider's Fitness Program; Soon to come: Dead Ringer - a tale of equine mystery and intrique! Former Moderator!


                • #9
                  We have shown some horses/ponies with ear plugs and some without. Just like people, each horse is different and each has its own needs and preferences. Often horses that are just learning about the show world find there are just too many things happening at the same time. Ear plugs let them focus attention away from outside sounds. That doesn't mean they will always need them, but it sure is nice for those that like to shut out the noise of tractors, clapping or mopeds!


                  • #10
                    There are so many unnatural sights and sounds at horse shows that I don't thinks hunters should remain answerable to, like golfcarts, ferris wheels (Devon), popping,crackling loudspeakers, echoing applause (indoors), etc. These are hunters, right? Except for an occasional tractor, car, and defintely lots of dogs (or other "natural" hunting field sounds), ought they be 100% answerable to these sounds? For Gods sake, they aren't posing as parade horses!!!!
                    Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will. - Gandhi


                    • #11
                      I can see why some people would think that stuffing cotton balls down a horse's ears is questionable (assuming cotton balls are the type of cotton that you guys are talking about?)

                      What I do is get a black sponge (yes, they do make such things and they are sold at most drug stores) since my horse is dark-coloured, rip it in half, and stuff half down each ear.

                      Tequila is very young and already has a short attention span - it's so much easier for him to focus on me if some of the ruckus going on around him is deadened a bit. It's not like they make him go completely deaf - it just makes the noises more of a "background noise" rather than an "up-in-your-face sound". Make sense? I think that's why most people use them. I've never had a problem with my horse being head shy. Usually right after I put the plugs in, he shakes his head once or twice, and then he's fine.


                      • #12
                        We use earplugs on most of our horses, and we show the A circuit all over FL. We dont use the rubber ones, just the Brown fuzzies. It is a great help. My horse could go w/o them, but having that little extra help keeping his attention is great. You have to admit there are so many things that go on and big horse shows earplugs are a lifesaver. It would be stupid for them to be illegal.


                        • #13
                          We commonly used a square cut off the end of a black polo wrap as an ear plug.


                          • #14
                            Our ex-steeplechaser turned eq-horse LOVES his earplugs...he puts his head dowwwwn for you to put them in or take them out. What could be wrong with earplugs? They save sensitive horses from some needless agitation without harming or hurting them...I use earplugs in the office when I'm trying to write a report and there's too much chitchat going on around me.


                            • #15
                              Recently while at WEF at Tampa, I noticed a vendor selling ear plugs. It caught my eye as I have not had too much exposure to horses needing them. I am a member of a mounted drill team, and 99% of the time if a new or seasoned horse is going to react to something, it will be VISUAL (a cart with hundreds of balloons, etc). I cannot tell you how many parades we have marched in with fire engines directly behind us blaring their horns & sirens the entire way. We have TB's Arabs, QH's and many other breeds in our group. My 17H TB, who I show in hunter/EQ classes has seen and/or heard just about everything - men walking on stilts next to him; walking through smoke machines; thousands of people clapping & cheering on a boardwalk, etc. After all that, the horseshows are a piece of cake!!


                              • #16
                                Since I guess I'm to blame for bringing up the earplug subject and stating that using them is not in compliance with AHSA rules, I'll clarify why I said that.

                                Besides my Appendix Quarter Horse that I use for foxhunting & trail riding, I also own a Half-Arabian that is shown at A-rated Arabian shows in Half-Arabian Western Trail (Open and AOTR). We were at a show at Commonwealth Park last year, and decided to try using earplugs on her since she's easily distracted by the crackling sound that the PA system makes. Before we went in the class, an acquaintance who works the show office at some other Arabian shows came up to us (the trainer and me) and discreetly said, "You know, earplugs are 'illegal', you'd better take them out of your horse's ears before going in the class." Well, we both KNEW that they were very commonly used on the hunter circuit, but rather than arguing the point and/or risk being disqualified, we removed them. But I still really questioned their "illegality", so the next week I called the AHSA, told them that I had a very specific question about the use of earplugs, and was directed to the Rules department. I specifically asked the person to whom I was transferred, "Can earplugs be used at AHSA shows?" The AHSA employee said, "No, absolutely not. They are considered an artificial appliance, and according to Article 319.2, they are not permitted. Article 319.2 states that 'all artificial appliances other than those permitted in division rules are prohibited'."

                                Now, it's quite possible that this employee was wrong, but the matter was not important enough to me to pursue further. The trainer and I felt like the earplugs were a crutch (albeit a minor one), and if there was any question about their "legality", it wasn't worth risking. The earplugs do make a difference in the horse's reactions to sounds, which may or may not make a difference in our placing in a class. However, the trainer and I both approach showing as something fun to do, and it's the challenge of getting a good ride out of a difficult horse in a class that's relatively complicated that's important to us, as opposed to the color of the ribbon that the horse wins. So like I said, we just didn't bother pursuing the earplug issue any further.

                                I do not feel that earplugs are abusive or even remotely comparable to nerve lines, I only used them as an example of a commonly-used and relatively benign item that the AHSA does deem to be an artifical appliance (at least according to the AHSA employee that I spoke to), and that if earplugs were not allowed, then for God's sake, nerve lines certainly could NOT be "legal" according to the AHSA rule book.

                                I just took it on good faith that the AHSA employee that I talked to was competent and knowledgeable. I am VERY interested in hearing any responses that others get in their inquiries to the AHSA, so if anyone else gets any responses, please post them here!

                                Hope this clarifies how this subject got started! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]
                                Jennifer Thomas Alcott
                                Culpeper, VA


                                • #17
                                  I have a coming 4 year old, that we just took to his first show. We stuffed his (huge) ears, and he refused to jump until the ear plugs were removed - maybe he thought that the strange jumps were absorbing the sound! Then he went around like a trooper.

                                  I do agree that ear plugs are kinder to the horse than being lunged into the ground. I guess a lot of this is to make more horses fit the hunter ideal - unflappable, among other things. Maybe we need to re-examine what the hunter ideal SHOULD be.


                                  • #18
                                    If Stuffing eras is illegal than half of the horses out there would be disqualified at shows.
                                    "All life is precious"
                                    Sophie Scholl


                                    • #19
                                      as a judge and trainer I have to say the use of ear plugs is fine with me I also don't care if they are cotton and vivsible ,some horses are really sensitive to sound s and with the advent of all the extraniuos(sp) stuff at shows and the sound system sometimes having an actual charge thru the horse at shows (I mean it one of my students horses hates a particular show grounds due to sound system)if itmeans that i dont have to lunge them or ride themin to the ground its better for them right?


                                      • #20
                                        I posted my thoughts on ear plugs on the nerve line thred...I didn't see this one before I did it....anyway...as soon as anyone finds out if they are leagal or not...please let me know....the pony my daughter shows wears them...not because she's spooky or "hears" things....they just keep her from being distracted.