After posting yesterday’s blog, I noticed several people comment negatively about the horses ears during the performance. The common thread seemed to be that the viewers of the video seemed to think that the horse was saying, with its ears, that it was irritated or annoyed.
On the surface I can see how some people would think this. Even looking at the chart below it could appear that the horse was annoyed or worried. The difficulty is that the horse chart below is made for ‘reading’ horses that are in the pasture or generally in hand. Many of the ear positions are the same but some do change.
Many riders have never had the experience of riding a highly trained horse. Many horses that rely strongly on the bridle and less on the riders body/leg cues feel free to be less than fully focused. As a horse training advances to read the riders body more it is common to see the horses ears get more focused on the rider. As this happens the horses tend to hold their ears back, not flattened, but clearly focused on the rider. Not pinned, but intently listening.
The young lady with the mustang only had 130 days of training (see below). Watch her ride and then watch Roxy’s ride with me at the Quarter Horse Congress (also below). Roxy had more times when she looked relaxed because she has had more years to get comfortable with the cues. She doesn’t have to ‘think’ about it as hard because it is second nature. The younger horse is trying hard to focus.
What face do you make when you concentrate?
Watch Roxy’s ears change between intense and relaxed. When I ask for big moves she is more intense and when we are doing easier things her ears are more relaxed.
Here is the young lady with only 130 days of training on her mustang. This is the video that the ears were questioned. Think about how much this horse has learned in a short time…this explains his focused look.
Here is another bridleless just for more ear watching: