Margaret Williams

Ear Plugs For The Horse

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Have any of you tried these for your horse? I ride on our Sheriff's mounted posse. We do a lot of events, including some rodeo events presenting the flag in opening ceremonies etc. not a drill team but we try to do nice precision work.

My mare is such a level headed, self-confident mount....until the roar of the crowd in an indoor arena. She gets very jittery and nervous and naturally gets out of formation. Mine is not the only one but I hate that she won't stay where I put her. It's kind of hard to desensitize her to its since we can't reproduce the same environment to practice with.

So I was contemplating trying ear plugs to muffle the noise. Anyone tried this?

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Margaret,

Welcome to HC, you raise a interesting question, I read where those in mounted shooting competitions do use some type of ear plug, but it would be even more interesting if mounted police units ever use them. In most cases I think they would not, if your mare, gets nervous with the roar of a crowd, it may be that only time from exposure will solve your problem. I would suspect it isn't only the noise, that is the problem, but the crowds of people going in all directions, with no predictability. Sorry I don't have any real answers for you, But I wish you well. Best Wishes. PD

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Thanks for the reply PD. I suspect you may be right and exposure will be the only answer. We don't do enough of these though so I may just have to deal with it. She doesn't seem too bothered by the crowd moving. It's just the noise that gets her going. Doesn't do anything terrible, just dances around and gets out of formation. I move her back into place and she stays for a minute until the crowd applauds again.

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I'd be worried that by muffling the noise, she might freak more because it's taking away one if her senses. It would be better to let her get used to it then make her "deaf" during it, where she may feel helpless.

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I sure have! We've used both the puff ball style ones, and also just using the medical cotton sheeting you can buy at a drugstore.

We used them on my old man when we showed 4-H. He worked fine on the rail or pattern, but when it came time to stand in the line up he was a basket case (the back story on this guy is very unknown, but we bought him at 14yrs old with 12 owners on his AQHA papers, he was pretty ring sour all around and this is about the only thing we weren't able to break him of in 10 years of showing).

The ear plugs helped him chill, they didn't solve the problem, but they helped. Keep in mind I was 12 or 13 and my sister was 10 or 11 when we started showing him - Would I do things differently now as a 26 year old with another 13 years of riding experience under my belt? Yes, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't try ear plugs again. They are legal in a lot of venues and I would rather turn to ear plugs than some of the other legal "downers" out there like Ace.

It's worth a try, in my opinion. If they calm her I would use them for the performance to put on a good show, and then if you can take them out and keep riding her around the noise and lights outside the arena to help her get use to it.

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Small tampons make great earplugs. And they DO help. I used to do a lot of parades, and that's what we used.

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Ear plugs do work. Just a FYI, some sanctioned breed association events prohibit their use. My mare had a problem with crowds and PA systems blaring. I started taking her to local barrel races (not to compete). We just rode around the grounds and watched the events. After about 4 or 5 times she got used to the noise and activity and settled down to the point we could safely do parades. ~FH

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^^i have to agree with this. we have in-house demos, competitions and clinics, and the spectators are always applauding and there is noise blaring over the loudspeaker. most visitors' horses (who have had no previous exposure) get used to it by the end of the first day, at the latest.

but then we also have hot air balloons taking off from the neighboring launch area, helicopters landing to pick up injured polo players from another neigbor and just a lot of commotion in general. it's not about the parade--noise and crowds are, well, noise and crowds wherever they are.

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She does fine with parades and outdoor noise. It's the indoor noise that unnerves her. That roof just holds all the noise in. Not too bad while we're moving. It's the line ups where it comes apart. And we don't show. This is just flag presentation formations and an attempt at precision work. We have a long way to go. My husband rides with this group too and he uses his paint gelding who I used to ride on a drill team. He's quite good at this stuff. I always remind him when he brags about how good Nick did. ;)

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Margret,

Nice looking Rocky mare, I did see her in the the new additions to the gallery, all your horses look nice. Best Wishes. PD

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I learned this year that many show people do use ear plugs on their horses. AQHA has made it legal, apparently

Have not tried them myself

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my husband is a mounted shooter and ear plugs are a necessity, you can make a cheap pair out of cat toys (the soft poofy balls), and a string. important thing when pulling them out of the ear is to not just pull by the string because they can make a suction and hurt a little, so when you pull them out gently grasp and massage the base of the ear and gently pull the ear plug out (massaging the ear base breaks any seal that may have happened). and then there is just working with the horse to get their ears handled that much not only to take the plugs out but even just to put them in, if you don't get them in far enough the horse just shakes its head and they fall out. the string is important so you don't lose your ear plug, just tie it to the headstall. we do get our horses used to the sound of gunfire from the sidelines without ear plugs, it's more when you're actually shooting off their backs since the guns are so close to their ears at that point that we have the plugs in. and I know horses that just won't take the ear plugs at all and they do fine.

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