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Why does your horse wear an ear net/bonnet in competition?

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  • Why does your horse wear an ear net/bonnet in competition?

    Quick, unscientific survery here...why does your horse wear an ear net/bonnet during competition? What led you to make the decision to try one? Does your horse wear one at home or just competition? Thanks!

  • #2
    Only out on the trails to keep the flies out.
    ... _. ._ .._. .._


    • #3
      All I know is that when ear bonnets started to become "popular" 10 yrs ago or so, they may have been used to hide ear plugs, which are illegal. Some horses may have been overreactive to dressage/sj in big environments (Rolex, etc) and ear plugs may have produced a more focused, competitive test. I know that today, the FEI is supposed to remove bonnets and check for plugs. But that wasn't the case some years ago...and privately, it could be assumed that a horse wearing bonnet had it on "for a reason," and it wasn't the flies. I'm sure with more scrutiny, today's bonnets are simply that-- just bonnets. Perhaps the bonnet ears may provide a small amount of muffling that could be helpful to some horses. Or maybe the riders just think they look cool.

      I've never used one myself, other than for bugs on a trail ride many years ago...an old-style tassled one, it definitely wouldn't look chic in today's fashion!
      “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
      ? Albert Einstein



      • #4
        Originally posted by EventerAgain View Post
        Quick, unscientific survery here...

        why does your horse wear an ear net/bonnet during competition?
        It looks cute.

        What led you to make the decision to try one?
        They look cute.

        Does your horse wear one at home or just competition?
        All the time. Because it looks so darn cute!

        Proud member of the COTH Junior (and Junior-at-Heart!) clique!


        • #5
          My horse HATES bugs in his ears and can be pretty cranky if it is windy and blowing in his ears. So, he wears one, at home or away, if that's the situation.


          • #6
            I use one any time the flies are likely to be an issue - schooling, trail riding, competition (when legal), etc.
            Proud member of the EDRF


            • #7
              My horse doesn't wear an ear bonnet because I haven't finished knitting it yet.


              • #8
                I use a fly bonnet every ride because
                a. shes white and I find that sometimes when she gets sweaty she gets those bridle marks from the oil in the bridle. keeps her nice and clean.
                b. extra padding and keeps the bugs out.
                c. she just looks so cute in a hat.


                • #9
                  I have to use a bonnet all the time, if anything chews on his ears he gets welts Plus it give me a wonderful excuse to sport my custom bonnet that I had made, he's just to darn cute in it!



                  • #10
                    Originally posted by EventerAgain View Post
                    Quick, unscientific survery here...why does your horse wear an ear net/bonnet during competition? What led you to make the decision to try one? Does your horse wear one at home or just competition? Thanks!
                    Decided to try one earlier this year because pony was shaking his ears a lot. Combination of bugs (gnats more than flies) and his mane/forelock tickling. Hat solves the problem and seems to improve his focus on work, so we now use one at home and for all competitions where allowed. Boyfriend thinks it looks silly and makes lots of jokes about the "Batman hat" when I use a black one.


                    • #11
                      I used one initially because I had to ride in a field down by the road, and EVERY time a car would drive by, I would get head flinging crow hops. Put on a bonnet out of desperation, and it definitely helped muffle the sound of the cars.

                      Today, I use on any time I go out in public to keep his forelock from tickling his ear, and to keep in ear plugs where they're legal. I have a fiesty and sensitive red head.


                      • #12
                        I haven't ever used one on my horses, but I will admit that it's for the same reason that many people do use them....fashion. I often have less-than-type-y horses who wouldn't be accented (in a good way) by an ear bonnet.

                        I do know many trainers around here who use them as part of the horse's "show uniform." The thought is that the horses learn to associate the "hat" with "doing their job." I'm not sure whether I agree that most horses needs that (and whether there's a need to differentiate between doing their job daily and doing it at a show), but one of the most successful jumper trainers in the NW does it with all of his horses and it's tough to argue with his approach
                        Flying F Sport Horses
                        Horses in the NW


                        • Original Poster

                          Thanks for the feedback. I had a feeling they were used more along the lines of fly control/it looks cool; I was crossing my fingers on the muffling sound aspect (ear plugs being illegal!)...my gelding is super sensitive in warm-up and highly reactive to all trainers yelling in the warm up ring...I was hoping muffling it all a bit might help him out.

                          Either that or over the winter I need to hire someone to help my horse de-sensitize. They could stand in the middle of the arena while I ride and continually yell things like "Wonderful! Now try it faster! More forward! Jump the oxer! Excellent! Do it again!" (repeat. lots.)


                          • #14
                            my horse's brain is carbonated, and if it gets shaken up, it explodes, so the fly bonnet is his lid.


                            • #15
                              I don't do much competing anymore aside from hunter pacing or the occasional schooling HT but my horse wears an ear bonnet virtually every ride from April through Oct. because he is super sensitive to flies and bugs. Without the ear bonnet he spends way too much time tossing his head due to even one or two flies. I just stopped using it daily last week when it hit 50 degrees. If I was showing regularly I would be using it for that same reason. I know some people use them for ear plugs but I have never used mine for that purpose.


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by EventerAJ View Post
                                All I know is that when ear bonnets started to become "popular" 10 yrs ago or so, they may have been used to hide ear plugs, which are illegal. Some horses may have been overreactive to dressage/sj in big environments (Rolex, etc) and ear plugs may have produced a more focused, competitive test. I know that today, the FEI is supposed to remove bonnets and check for plugs.
                                This. When a horse is wearing one XC or SJ, there's still a pretty high probability that the horse's ears have been stuffed - and I've not seen an FEI steward check for that in either of those phases, though I'm aware of them checking in dressage. Not in all cases, but I know of more than a couple fairly reactive upper level horses who *always* have an ear bonnet on XC at big events, covering up some good sized fluffy ear plugs...


                                • #17
                                  My gelding wears a net for all rides at home, unless its dead winter when there are no bugs. I use it at shows when legal. My gelding absolutely hates anything buggy near his ears and will shake his head continually unless the net is on.


                                  • #18
                                    Shorty gets tickled by his forelock, plus he looks super snazzy ;-)


                                    • #19
                                      Dumb question: do ear plugs really work to calm a horse down?
                                      Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
                                      Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
                                      Take us to print!


                                      • #20
                                        most seem to be doing it for the fashion....c'mon, there arent any bugs if it is raining during your SJ course!!