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Twisting an ear???

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  • Twisting an ear???

    ok so I've heard of most things being done (any time you show for a while or work in the industry you tend to see or hear of the most bizarre stuff), THIS however is new to me....this is from Robert Dovers blog:

    "Once, I had gone for a lesson with one of the great classical trainers of our time and watched with my mouth open as, angry with something his horse had done, he took a hold of his ear from the saddle and twisted it until the animal fell to its knees. Classical?"

    then one of the replies said

    "I have trained with Dr. Klimke and H.Rehbein and know that sometimes you have to twist an ear."

    So while I know of folks who will twist an ear on the ground is lieu of using a twitch (which I don't like) I have NEVER heard or seen anyone do it in the saddle and am bewildered as to WHY?
    Last edited by JackSprats Mom; Aug. 7, 2009, 08:51 PM.
    I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.

  • #2
    Frustration and anger. It really only serves to make a horse ear and head shy. It doesn't teach them much, as they can not draw a logical correlation between the previous behavior, and having an ear wrenched about. I mean, if we can't make the correlation how can a horse? It only serves to make the rider feel better.

    Now if the horse were about to kill me, there is no part that might go untwisted.


    • #3
      You know, usually I like reading Robert's comments.

      Not this time. Something about that comment just really bothered me.

      I recognize that ALL - ALL - of the 'great masters' and all the great people we admire and consider to be perfect, have flaws and make mistakes. That doesn't much bother me. I don't expect them to be perfect.

      Willi Schultheis, according to Balkenhol, had him take a horse to a show, and the results were disastrous - Schultheis was wrong about the horse (or rider, or both) being ready for the show. Willi Schultheis still did a lot of good stuff. NONE of these people are perfect.

      Do people who worked with the same trainers Robert Dover worked with, say they twisted a horse's ear and put the horse to its knees? Most bios of Robert don't mention any German trainers he worked with, they just list his medals or discuss his being gay and involved in athletics...one mentioned that til Athens, he was the lowest scoring team rider in every Olympics he was in.

      'Angry at something his horse did' is a little general. I'd like Robert to say who it was and what the circumstances were.

      But...everyone loses their temper from time to time. If someone has a fit once, they are being human, they screwed up. If it's a habit and that's how they react to the tiniest frustration, I ain't sympathetic. If Robert stayed with a trainer who chronically lost his temper and put horses on the ground by twisting their ears for months, over and over, shame on Robert.


      • #4
        The only times I have seen "ear twisting" done was with a horse that would not hold it's head still for bridling and another time for a horse that would not stand still (and the people couldn't find a twitch). In both cases, yes the horse became very head shy. Duh. Have never seen it done to a horse being ridden.

        *OMGiH I Loff my Mare* and *My Saddlebred Can Do Anything Your Horse Can Do*


        • #5
          When I was in rural Brazil I remember seeing a horse in a pasture with a malformed ear. I thought nothing of it, figuring it was a birth defect, until I saw a second, a third, a fourth...always the left ear. It is a very powerful way to control a horse, but I can't imagine needing to use it unless the horse is in an emergency situation where it is utterly terrified and trying desperately to fight or flee. And if that situation is your bad training and handling methods, how about modifying how you work with horses so they don't need that kind of restraint!!!

          It boggles my mind to see people use such harsh techniques, when gentle ones work so well. Really pathetic.


          • Original Poster

            What are they intending to do though?

            I mean I have seen poeple beat horses with whips (again NOT condoning) in order to get them to move...but what are they intending to convey by grabbing an ear? It seems to serve absolutely no purpose?
            I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.


            • #7
              Originally posted by JackSprats Mom View Post
              What are they intending to do though?

              I mean I have seen poeple beat horses with whips (again NOT condoning) in order to get them to move...but what are they intending to convey by grabbing an ear? It seems to serve absolutely no purpose?
              Induce so much focus on the pain in the ear that the horse can't think straight and submits to whatever you are trying to force it to do?


              • #8
                Submission of the horse through force, abuse, pain, fear and aggression.

                Utterly useless, all of it. The horse learns to do whatever by rote, with no spirit, no personality, no zest.

                Continue to do it and you lose all hope of attaining any sort of expression from the horse.

                Humans, boycott the bad, forceful, vicious trainers. The bad training methods continue to exist because people PAY to have themselves and their horses trained by such individuals. The almighty dollar induces many to use whatever means possible to get the horses winning in the show ring at all costs. Regardless of the damage to the horse's spirit, mind and body.
                Practice! Patience! Persistence!


                • #9
                  Absolutely right, Rodawn.

                  If you have a horse in training, you make damned sure you turn up at unexpected times to see what's going on when you aren't there. Have the courage of your convictions if you see a trainer is doing something that makes you uncomfortable to your horse, or to any other horse for that matter, and pack your stuff and get out of there. Don't continue to line the pockets of abusive trainers.

                  And they are out there--whether they get like that because they've reached the finite point of their real training ability and don't know how to progress and get frustrated, or whether they think what they do makes them winners in the show-ring (doesn't usually, in my experience) or whether they are just psycopathic b******ds who should be undergoing treatment in a secure facility, not being paid to get their jollies out of hurting animals.

                  Just say no. Stop making excuses and vote with your pocket book. There are capable, decent people out there training who actually like horses.


                  • #10
                    I don't think it's a "Classical" method.

                    It's an "Assical" method.

                    Poor horses.


                    • #11
                      'Assical Method'

                      Beasmon is i-ree.


                      • #12
                        If I could get my hands on the moron who did this to my horse!! My horse has issues every day of his life because somebody, somewhere did this to him. When he pricks his ears forward, one is off, like it's broken, no doubt a result of some moron twisting it! I can't tell you the trouble this has caused him/me! Arghh!!
                        Last edited by Cindyg; Apr. 25, 2012, 11:56 PM.
                        I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


                        • #13
                          'Earin' 'em down' is a very common and very old practice.

                          Please note when I say 'it's a common practice', I mean it's a common practice, I do not mean, 'it's great! Let's do it all the time while riding!' I mean it is a common practice, and that's ALL I mean.

                          There are a number of other ways a horse can wind up with an ear that's out of line, one is a nerve disorder (there was a horse at a barn I went to a month ago that had this disorder, so it's not rare). Horses also can get frostbite on their ears and so damage their ears, and one horse I saw had had his ear mangled when a bunch of dogs chased him and his dam and got him down on the ground.

                          Too, at the race track, I hear it's not so unusual for people to use an ear twitch and I'm sure it's used other places...once an old cowboy type told me he would fold a horse's ear and bite it to hold a horse still, say for first saddling or for vet treatment on a wound.

                          I can see doing whatever it takes, if it it's a matter of life and death, such as keeping a horse still while trying to cut him out of some wire. There are a number of 'not so pretty' restraint methods for horses, such as various techniques with ropes and straps, the 'shoulder roll', the 'ear twitch' for when one doesn't have the luxury of medication and time.

                          All methods of restraining a struggling, excited horse are dangerous, and all can result in unpredictable behavior. Hope that you never need it. You certainly don't need it to ride around a dressage arena, in fact, the idea is absurd, much like the medieval practice of tieing a cat to a pole and whacking it on the head til it's spitting and clawing mad, then thrusting it at the belly of a horse that is being nappy.


                          • #14
                            Written by SLC "Too, at the race track, I hear it's not so unusual for people to use an ear twitch and I'm sure it's used other places...once an old cowboy type told me he would fold a horse's ear and bite it to hold a horse still, say for first saddling or for vet treatment on a wound."

                            SLC I usually give you the benefit of the doubt in your posts but race track people are not idiots. They are usually experienced horseman working with expensive athletes. They know that "twisting an ear" is not the way to go. Try putting a bridle on an 18h horse who wants to be tall because someone has made him headshy. In my years at the track I only saw this done once or twice usually by a gyp or green handler. A lip twitch or lead chain under the lip works much better in emergencies. It is unusual. Whoever told you that needs to go to a better quality barn. End of vent. Back to the discussion.
                            Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!


                            • #15
                              I don't know about ear twitching at racetracks now, but when I bought my 3 yrs of racing (plus one year of training as she was a late foal) and years of being a broodmare horse, Callie was extremely upset if her left ear was touched by anything but a bridle. I could not touch her left ear or put a halter on over it, but could easily put a bridle on over it. Took over a year to get her to trust me not to twitch that ear. OTTB mares are very smart and never forget an insult.
                              Maybe the person the OP is talking about worked at a racetrack at one time, or at a broodmare farm.


                              • #16
                                "people at the race track are smart"

                                Of course they are. They also have to handle excited, half trained horses and somehow convince them quickly to get into the gate without getting themselves trampled. And they use ear twitches. I've seen 'em do it, more than once. At the starting gate, mostly. Not all. No. Nothing is 'all'. You can argue how common it is at the race track, and what percentage of the time it's used, all you want Rusty Stirrup, but that exercise will be done without me. The next post describes an ear shy horse, the left ear. An off the track horse. And I've seen that more than once, even my own little OTT horse was like that, you could mess with the bridle all you want, but stay away from that ear; a lot of them, you can't even put the crown over their ears, you have to unbuckle it. So it happens. How often it happens, what percentage of the time, whether there are 'good and bad' at the track, whether 'good people don't twitch the ear', carry on without me.
                                Last edited by slc2; Aug. 8, 2009, 09:46 AM.


                                • #17

                                  ... I don't quite understand why Robert would write something that inflammatory in his blog.... What's the purpose?

                                  A long time ago I was at a clinic with a BNT from Germany and dear Robert had a session with said BNT. When he was asked to start with some basics he immediately told the trainer that he only wanted to learn the tricks, not the basics. At that point the BNT told him in no uncertain terms that there would be no sense in continuing with the lesson!!

                                  I wonder why Robert didn't put that in his blog???
                                  Siegi Belz
                                  2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
                                  Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.


                                  • #18
                                    "I have trained with Dr. Klimke and H.Rehbein and know that sometimes you have to twist an ear."
                                    I've read some rubbish on horse forums over the years but that one takes the biscuit.

                                    Is this thread taking us off on a trip to la-la land?

                                    or are you just trying to yank my chain?


                                    • #19
                                      The quote was from Robert Dover's blog.

                                      His comment, that he has worked with Reiner Klimke and Rehbein, and knows 'I know that sometimes you have to twist an ear', is pretty disturbing.

                                      First of all, I have a hard time picturing Reiner Klimke or Rehbein, making a practice of twisting horse's ears, in the dressage ring. I've never heard anyone else say, 'I was at Rehbein's, and he eared a horse down', for example.

                                      Rehbein and Klimke BOTH were horsemen, extraordinary riders. I am SURE, no matter how good they were, they got irritated now and again or even lost their tempers. THey were human beings after all. And I'm sure people didn't always send them perfectly sweet little adorable perfectly trained horses.

                                      People send problems to trainers, problems they are afraid to deal with. Trainers get put in bad positions. And yes, I can see, sometimes, having to do things that are not so sweet, to keep the horse from becoming dog food. Even very good trainers get very, very hard horses - Michael Barisone's wife told us at a clinic, that Mike was given an elite prospect that no one could get on! He had to press his knee onto the horse's side, then vault on and the horse got him off many times.

                                      Even so, I feel most of the time, both of them would have no REASON to do anything like earing a horse, because they would have a safer-for-the-handler, more efficient and effective thing to do, even if they had no problem with doing it in extremis, I have a real hard time imagining Klimke earing a horse to the ground for not performing a correct pirouette.

                                      Why? Because it doesn't make any sense. The rider would have to take himself out of position, reach forward and grab that ear. If he was having trouble with his horse, the LAST thing he'd want to do is lean forward, take his butt out of the saddle, and do something like that with his arm. If he had someone ELSE come up and yank the horse's ear, he would be doing something the horse would know wasn't going to happen in the show ring...in other words, ineffective and pointless.

                                      I think you DO sometimes have to 'twist an ear', figuratively, perhaps, in the sense that horses weigh 1200 lbs, and people way a tenth or so of that.

                                      And sometimes they try to run over you, or rip you out of the saddle and bolt, or buck like a son of a gun, or stand on their hind legs or try to scrape you off on a tree, or get very snotty when you want them to do something, usually because they're frisky as hell, cheeky or have no idea what you want, have been spoiled to death by some timid, ignorant rider, or are so confused and screwed up from their previous training that their reaction to any demand is to fight back, or somewhere, something is hurting them or they have some memory of hurt and refuse to try to do something they think might hurt again....and frankly, a healthy, young, active horse who isn't sore, hurting and miserable, BETTER be naughty some days, or you should go get a thermometer and call the vet.

                                      But I STILL have a real hard time picturing what might happen in a dressage arena, that couldn't be handled another way other than literally twisting the horse's ear. And I have a hard time picturing a very skilled rider even needing to.

                                      Years ago, my little pony was acting like an ass at a warmup. He was a very, very naughty pony.

                                      The riding teacher came over, and put her jacket around his muzzle, and took ahold of both reins, I could not see what she did, but it sent a shudder through first one side of the horse and then the other, and sent me into the ring.

                                      And that pony was perfectly behaved for the entire class.

                                      My point is this. If an ordinary riding teacher can do such a thing to keep a kid safe on a pony for a few minutes, just about any skilled rider could do something like that, something that no one else would even see, that would make the horse behave himself and be obedient. He would never have to do ANYTHING as obvious as ear a horse down. He could very neatly fly under the radar.

                                      Years ago I watched a well known trainer get on a big old lazy mush of a warmblood stallion who tended to be a sort of hard sided, very unimpressed sort of horse. He had spent the last 30 minutes dragging his unlucky rider around while she tried in vain to get him to - well - do some dressage.

                                      She got on the horse, and just sat their, adjusting her reins and stirrups.

                                      While she was doing that, every single vein on the horse's neck popped out, and he within that minute or two, started to get hives on his neck. They just popped up.

                                      The horse went around the ring, light as a feather on the reins, perfectly quietly mouthing the bit like the best schooled horse in the world, responding from the merest breeze from her boot. She never had to even touch the horse with the whip. No bending and bending to try and lighten him...and this was a rather small lady.

                                      She hopped off with a smile and I was standing there with my jaw on the floor.

                                      'What did you DO', I said.

                                      'I put my leg on him', she grinned.

                                      Ear a horse down? Why bother when you can do that? I daresay a Klimke or a Rehbein wouldn't have much need to. But I also seriously doubt they apply such cathected emotion to a horse. I can't see them saying, 'oh dear, we can't possibly scold poopsie for taking a chunk out of the groom', or mimicking the recent post from the gal whos stable manager said the horse drug her and scared her to death when she was turning him out, the owner's reaction was 'well you don't lead him properly, and maybe poopsie was hungry, you need to give him more food'. If a horse was doing something dangerous or being totally nasty, I'm very sure they would have had no problem disciplining the horse how they saw fit.


                                      • #20
                                        an ear twitch, which is what the procedure is properly called, is a very useful technique to subdue an animal for emergency examination or treatment or to just plain make it safe for the humans involved. A common and humane technique in the right hands.

                                        Just like a dressage "whip" is a very useful tool to emphasize a leg or seat aid, when used correctly. Neither tool is inhumane in and of itself. Get over yourselves already.

                                        What I (and others) properly object to is the use of any of our training tools as weapons of abuse. I can't see the need to ever raise a welt with a whip or even to raise it high enough to cause actual pain. A touch, brush or tap is generally sufficient. Like the mosquitos, the stimulus for a horse does not have to be huge to get a reaction. And there is little a human can do to a horse in terms of correction that other horses cannot do bigger, with more force and damage.

                                        But because we have all been there (and if you haven't, then you are either not being honest, are forgetful or simply haven't been training enough horses yet...or perhaps are being nominated for sainthood) to the place where we lose our temper.

                                        No human, not even the ODG's are exempt from this human failing. Stones and glass houses and all that.

                                        Dover and others mention particular instances of misuse, momentary lapses of reason and skill. if he has none, then more power to him.
                                        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF