Ever try to clean a new horse’s ears? Just as people have sensitive parts of their bodies, horses have parts they wouldn’t easily let you touch. The problem is, when putting a horse through equestrian training—or even if you just want to rear the horse and not make him go through equestrian training—you’ll also need to take care of her health and overall welfare. This entails cleaning and applying medications and ointments on spots she may be too shy to let you touch—like her ears.
During your equestrian training regime you’ll discover that you have to apply three things in order to teach your horse whatever it is you want her to learn: Restraint, Reward, and Repetition. In fact, as early as now, when you’re only acclimatizing your horse to her new environment and what’s to become her regular routines for holistic care, you already need to apply these three concepts.
For the most part, your horse won’t let you touch her ears because she’s innately cautious of you hurting her. The key to making her comfortable with such routines as cleaning the inside and outside of her ears is to let her know that you’re not going to harm her. To be able to do that, you both need to be in a safe enclosure where you can work on her ears. Start by placing your hand on a part of her face she allows you to touch. If you’ve been into horse riding for a long while now, you should know which parts are okay and which would simply make her turn away from you. Stroke her face in a manner that naturally brings your hands close to her ears. Your action would then transition into a stroke that goes beyond her ears. You’ll notice that the slightest touch can cause her to move her head and her ears away. So on your part; you need to brush your hand over her ears fast enough such that you move your hand away before she can react. Do this repeatedly until you think you can do it slower and slower still until she understands that you’re not going to harm her or her ears.
Then you’ll need to focus on doing pretty much the same thing only this time you need to touch the outside of her ears, starting from the tips. Then work your way to the inside of her ears. Finally, you should make her comfortable to the feel of both your hands actually firmly but gently holding her ears and touching its insides.
The restraint, reward, and repetition cycle is always at work when you do this—restrain her gently if she moves away and put her back to the original position she moved away from, reward her every correct response (in this case, every time she doesn’t move away) by praising her, and repeat the process until she feels the whole routine is safe, and eventually, to be expected. Also, don’t expect that you can just walk up to your horse and grab her ear the next day—you’ll need several days or even up to a week of this to make her feel completely comfortable with it.
Before you introduce a new horse to the basics equestrian training or even horse riding, you’ll need to ensure she’s kept healthy and well. And even before that, you need to let her know she need not shy away from you and move away whatever part of her that needs cleaning or tending to.