Missouri Foxtrotter 2 almost 3 years old ridden in two-ear headstall-curb and fox-trotting saddle in round pen,  pasture by a good, expericineced rider.

Question: I show Foxtrotter and have one ,he has good a head shake but his ears do not move back and forth as they should. I know you can use baby oil, and it relaxes their so they do move I want something more natural I have heard ear shaking is bred into them, but if not then how can I get them to move. please help!!!! Shows are coming up!!!!!

From Panelist Nancy

I suggest that you stop worrying about your horse's ears.  Most horses' ears 
do not flop and any judge that would be swayed by flopping ears, I would hate 
to be judged by.  These horses are bred for their gaits and not flopping ears 
and no judge should consider flopping ears more important than smooth gait. 
Go to the shows and ride well and show the judge how nicely your horse gaits 
and how much fun he is to ride and you will do well.  Don't worry about the 

Nancy Cade

From Panelist Laura

Please don't put baby oil or anything else in your horse's ears.  The 
flopping ears is supposed to mean that your horse is relaxed (or exhausted), 
and using gimmicks to get that look isn't doing your horse any favors.

Instead, concentrate on getting the very best gaits from your foxtrotter. 
The judge's are not fooled by a horse doing an incorrect gait with flopping 
ears.  They are looking for a loose, relaxed 4-beat, flat walk (a slow 
running walk - not a dog walk), and for a head-shaking, relaxed foxtrot.  The 
trend to put your show foxtrotter into a gait close to a trot is falling out 
of favor in the show ring.  Work your horse until he is relaxed and giving 
you his best gaits - then take him in the show ring.  You will both be a lot 
happier and the judge will give you a better look. 


From Panelists Lee

Different horses have different degrees of ear flop-- those with longer ears tend to shake them more, a horse with short foxy ears will not be flopping them much  no matter what his gait.

Actually, oil in the ears does not relax them, it just irritates them into shaking their heads.  IMO introducing foreign material into a horse's ears to achieve a purely cosmetic result borders on horse abuse.

One thing that may help is to use a browband bridle with a looser browband, and to work the horse in the flat walk until he is relaxed and even a bit tired.  Quiet even hands also will help.

IMO, a horse should be judged on his performance of the gaits, not on whether on not his ears move like pinwheels.  If your gaits are perfect they should overshadow any lack of ear flop.

Lee Ziegler

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