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clipping the ears...totally opposed but 4-H thinks otherwise

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  • clipping the ears...totally opposed but 4-H thinks otherwise

    I have a boarding barn that is mostly the Dressage/eventing types but a couple of the kids participate in 4-H and are on the local equestrian team. Now let me just say---I was in 4-H and while there are many, MANY things that I don't agree with, I think it's great for teaching the kids good horsemanship and responsibility.

    That being said, of course one of the big things is that the kids have to shave the insides of their horses' ears. This drives me absolutely BATTY. I live in the camp that says that the horses need that hair for protection against insects. I hate to see a horse with the insides of its ears completely bald - and my students agree with me on this one. But nonetheless, their 4-H leader insists on it and gives them a really hard time despite the kids themselves standing up for what they believe is doing right by their horses. So I'm pretty proud of my students, but I get sick of them being harassed by the coaches and leaders about it.

    I thought that I had read somewhere that in Europe it is a practice that is completely frowned upon and draws the ire of many higher ups. In fact, my lovely 16 year old student, whom I adore to bits, came back at her Eq. Team coach with a resounding "well they don't do that in Germany!" response, for which I almost fell down laughing :-)

    So what is the general rule of thumb in Euope and other places. And what can a trainer do to help her kids out when they're just looking out for their horses and trying to do what they believe is right???

  • #2
    Yep, whiskers and ears are usually natural in Europe. You don't find "Cropped" ears on dogs much either.

    Maybe if enough kids start showing here untrimmed it will be come the norm (kinda like helmets for GP dressage). I hope so but it won't happen overnight. Can't see halter horses or fitting and showmanship horses going natural in any hurry. jmho
    Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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    • #3
      Well, the Saddlebreds, they almost use Nair,(ETA that's a gross exaggeration, used for effect, folks, never heard or seen it be done) so I'm no help. I'm in your camp though, even back in the day the most we did was fold the ear from side to side and clip the hair even with the flesh, tidy it up a little.
      Last edited by ReSomething; Jan. 7, 2012, 09:06 PM.
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      • #4
        I'll clip the super long stuff that comes out of the ears to clean them up a little, but unless I'm doing a total body clip (including the entire head) in the winter I don't ever shave the stuff inside the ears.
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        • #5
          I have never had any problems with clipping ears completely and I will continue to do it to any show horse I have.

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          • #6
            My daughter does 4-H horsemanship here in Missouri. We don't clip the inside of her horse's ears, just fold over and trim along the edge. He lives out 24/7, so he needs that hair for protection against bugs and dirt. In the past, we've clipped whiskers, but are considering leaving them "natural" as well.

            Daughter doesn't do showmanship, but it wouldn't matter if she did--we still wouldn't clip those ears (and she would be ready to explain why to the judge).

            I wouldn't let the 4-H leader badger you into doing something that's not good for your horse.

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            • #7
              We also just fold the ear and clip the edge for 4-H- never clip inside the ear. Some do, some don't in 4-H. I won't clip the inside since ours aren't stalled.

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              • #8
                If I'm showing (no matter what I'm showing in) the ears are clipped even though my guys are outside 24/7. I don't show in the winter so I don't have to worry about frostbite or such. During the summer, if I've clipped ears- that horse gets twice daily bug lotion on their ears and/or fly mask with ears and I've never had a problem with bugs.
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                • #9
                  I never did understand why people feel the need to clip whiskers and ears. The hair is there for a reason and as far as I can tell, people clip purely for the aesthetics alone.

                  If I'm showing, I'll trim some of the big fluff that sticks out of an ear, but I will never clip the entire inside. The hunter/jumpers at my barn have all their hair clipped year round even when they aren't showing. Makes no sense to me.
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                  • #10
                    I have never clipped the hair from inside the ears- I fold the ears closed and trim the sticky-out bits but leave everything else alone.
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                    • #11
                      We always trimmed ears in 4-H or when showing a horse and that was in the 80's!! I don't know if it was a requirement or not. I continue to keep my just for pleasure riding- horses clipped, although I don't do the ears completely, I just prefer the clean look of a horse that has it's face clipped. Maybe a good compromise is to clip some of the inside so it isn't sticking way out of the ear.
                      If they want to be in 4-H and that is part of the rules than they should try to find a solution. If it is just the leaders thing then it is up for debate.

                      My daughters horse hates having her ears touched, we are working slowly on it, but her ears remain shaggy to this day and I realize and accept that she may always be this way.

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                      • #12
                        You could try experimenting with something like vasaline, which would smooth down the hair inside the ears at a show. Kids could also ride the English classes with an ear cover, even in 4-H here! We have a black one with a sequin edge, on the plain bay for that second look from the Judge. Still neat and workmanlike, no tassels, for English riding classes.

                        I vasaline the horses ears in summer anyway, keeps gnats, flaky skin cleaned off. Even untrimmed, the hair in ears doesn't really DO much as bug protection.

                        You would just have a small smear on your finger, smooth it over the inside of ears. No gob or big clots of vasaline, just enought to make ear shiny inside, and leave a TINY layer to clog up the gnats biting parts!! You can wipe it back off after the show if you want.

                        Don't fault the 4-H Leader. Their job is to teach kids the BEST way to present their project animal. The Judges EXPECT kids to have trimmed off ALL extra hair of the horse for showing, ridden or in-hand. Kid may be marked down for not doing their pre-show preparations well, if hair is not trimmed. Could easily mean the difference between a higher placing and no ribbon at all! 4-H is preparing kids for the REAL WORLD of competiton. If kid expects to do well, they NEED to present the best picture possible, work with their animal to be a Team, smooth and coordinated. Kid with untrimmed ears on their horse is wasting time and money doing Circut showing, not up to the Standards needed to win.

                        I would HEAVILY FAULT a 4-H Leader who didn't keep repeating ALL the needed steps to prepare a horse for showing so the kid knows them. Kids only doing performance classes of Games, where time is all, seldom have horses who look as nicely presented as the horse doing Showmanship and Pleasure. The hairy ears and legs are the "look" one mentally pictures when someone says "Oh they do 4-H with their horses". Not the smooth, well-groomed (fully trimmed) horse and child who could beat anyone they went in against.

                        Showing horses is REAL LIFE, prizes go to the well prepared handler, rider, using the well-prepared animal. Real Life is not fair, so 4-H kids have to use every grooming trick, riding skill possible to level the field when animals are never going to be equal. Presentation is your first chance to impress the Judge, so he will continue to check you out during a class. You LOOK like you came to win!! Hairy ears, like it or not, doesn't present well. This is the SHOW, not daily living.

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                        • #13
                          Every single one of my horses (save a jumper I had that would literally flip over if you brought clippers anywhere above his eye line) has their ears and whiskers clipped year-round. The horror! I have never had a horse get an ear infection or had problems with bugs or seen any issues with having a shaved nose. My horses wear fly masks when turned out year-round (I live in Florida) and have their ears wiped down with bug cloths twice a day.

                          If I were that girl's eq. coach, my response would've been "Well, sweetheart, we're not in Germany!"

                          To each their own.
                          Nine out of ten times, you'll get it wrong...but it's that tenth time that you get it right that makes all the difference.

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                          • #14
                            AS far as I know there is no 4H rule regarding clipped ears. And indeed would be inhumane in my area of the world with an animal that lives outside.

                            When I was in 4H before the dawn of man, we just folded and trimmed the edges. My Dad who was the leader, wouldn't let me clip the inside. (I won the grand champion of champions with unclipped ears also.) I know.... the HORRORS!

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                            • #15
                              It is true - in Germany they do not believe in ultra-clipping - (almost) all the stallions no matter how nicely turned out, have full whiskers, as seen in their ads.
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                              • #16
                                I grew up in the UK and no, we don't clip inside ears or whiskers.

                                (or dock horse tails, crop dog's ears, or declaw cats)
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                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by zipperfoot View Post
                                  My daughter does 4-H horsemanship here in Missouri. We don't clip the inside of her horse's ears, just fold over and trim along the edge. He lives out 24/7, so he needs that hair for protection against bugs and dirt. In the past, we've clipped whiskers, but are considering leaving them "natural" as well.

                                  Daughter doesn't do showmanship, but it wouldn't matter if she did--we still wouldn't clip those ears (and she would be ready to explain why to the judge).

                                  I wouldn't let the 4-H leader badger you into doing something that's not good for your horse.
                                  This, absolutely. In my day in 4-H, the ASBs/Morgans/Arabs had their ears trimmed; the hunter horses and Western horses did not. I cannot even conceive of a 4-H leader insisting on clipped ears for all disciplines; I'd tell the idiotic b8tch to take a very long walk off a very short pier!

                                  Oh and for the record: my ASB has *never* had the insides of his ears trimmed. Didn't stop him from being state champion at the breed shows last year, didn't stop him from being overall reserve champion *nationally* this year. Discussion would end right there, as far as I'm concerned.
                                  "The standard you walk by is the standard you accept."--Lt. Gen. David Morrison, Austalian Army Chief

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                                  • #18
                                    Well, the Saddlebreds, they almost use Nair
                                    Same with minis! Many use 30 blades for the body and razor muzzles uo to their eyes -- heaven forbid there be an untouched hair on the body (except for the "V" over the tail, intended to make the tail appear to be set higher). Color class at a mini show is a bit like looking at pre-fired pottery: That muted grey is actually black...that beige? A chestnut. That mousey taupe? A bay. That dull pink and grey? A pinto.

                                    I have been accused of being slovenly because I show my slick, tight-coated blood bay in his glorious, natural summer coat. (I do clip a short bridle path, trim fetlocks, and fold the ears to trim) One person told me, "You wouldn't enter Miss America with hairy armpits." Here is a photo of my hairy armpit boy:

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by ReSomething View Post
                                      even back in the day the most we did was fold the ear from side to side and clip the hair even with the flesh, tidy it up a little.
                                      I show my Arabian at Class A shows and that's all I do, too. We were reserve champion at the last one. So the judge must not have noticed my horse's hairy ears.

                                      OP, my very limited experience with 4H is that the clubs vary a LOT, depending on where you are. Some are very good. Some aren't.

                                      My niece was interested in riding, so I was going to volunteer with my local 4H horse club. I went to a show to observe and help out. Let's just say that my idea of horsemanship and the leader's idea of horsemanship were not the same. And it started with the funny look she gave me when I asked why the kids didn't wear helmets.

                                      If the kids feel clipping isn't necessary, they can quietly tell fearless leader that not clipping is their choice for their horses. If she persists, just repeat until she gets the point. No need to be disrespectful. Just be as persistent as she is.
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                                      • #20
                                        I showed 4H for several years and aged out in 2008, but have continued to help out as a 4H leader. I showed in (hunter)showmanship classes in both 4H and other open shows and never clipped the inside of the ears. I would fold the ears and trim up the outside and maybe even up any tufts that were sticking out, but never clipped the entire inside. My horse and I won showmanship classes all the time, including those at State 4H show (out of 80 horses!). I would even up the outsides and make sure it looks neat, but if you don't want to clip the insides, then don't. I don't think it makes that much of a difference. I never did western or saddleseat showmanship, so I can't comment on that.

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