Horses: How Good is Their Hearing? Are They Prone to Ear Problems?

Many horses are prone to ear problems, but what is the cause? A common misconception is that their ears should be cleaned every day. This isn’t true! Horses have a very sensitive inner ear, and it’s important not to damage this when cleaning the outer part of your horse’s ears. In addition, horses can get infections in their ears from dirty water or hay. So why do they need to protect their hearing? Well, hearing loss can lead to tinnitus which causes pain for both humans and animals!

The first step you want to take if your horse has an infection in his/her ear is talking with a veterinarian about antibiotics. One thing you might notice is if there’s any discharge coming out of your horse’s ears. If so, you’ll want to contact a vet because this is an indication of infection.

How good can horses hear?

Horses have a sense of hearing that is about four times as strong as humans. They can listen to frequencies between about 16-40 kHz, while humans can only hear from around 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

Horses have a very sensitive range for sounds that indicate hoofbeats, and as they’re prey animals in the wild, this helps them survive by detecting danger before it becomes too serious!

Ear flexibility

A horse’s ears can rotate 180 degrees, allowing them to hear from all directions. They also have a thin skin flap called the pinna that helps to collect sound waves.

Inner Ear

The skin on the inside of a horse’s ear is susceptible and contains many nerve endings. This inner ear processes the sound waves and then sends messages to the brain for interpretation.

Horses can detect sound waves in the air through their ears. They’re also able to detect sounds through their hooves and feet. However, they like to stand on hard surfaces so that the sound waves can travel up from the ground.

Horses are very good at hearing low frequencies such as those produced by predators lurking in tall grasses or shrubs. This is why horses often act nervous when a lawn mower is running.

When horses sleep, they lie down with one ear pointed forward and one backward so they can stay alert for sounds from behind or ahead of them.

Horses can also pick up high frequencies, and some horses are sensitive to noises from a vacuum cleaner. 

Vet checkups

An ear examination is part of the horse’s yearly health checkup because it provides clues about their general physical condition. The veterinarian will inspect for signs of head injury or infection in the ears, such as swelling, redness, or discharge.

Ear mites in horses

Ear mites are a parasite in horse’s ears similar to those found on cats, dogs, and humans. The parasitical eggs hatch into microscopic larvae and feed off the inside of their host’s skin cells before moving deeper into the ear canal.


Ear mites are prevalent in horses; an infestation is usually the cause of head shaking, ear scratching, or discharge from the ear as they move around to find a suitable place to feed on skin cells. The veterinarian will often prescribe an antibiotic for treatment because it can be challenging to remove them manually.

Ear mites can also lead to an infection of the outer ear canal called otitis externa, most often caused by bacteria or fungus. Symptoms for this condition include swelling, a visible discharge, and pain in their ears.

What are the Benefits of Understanding Horses’ Hearing?

Understanding horses’ hearing can help with training, prevent injuries and even improve performance at dressage or jumping events. However, it’s also essential to take care not to frighten a horse when you’re near them. This means making sure your body doesn’t make sudden movements, as well as making sure your voice is gentle and calm.

Horse ear myths and facts

Myth: Horses should be kept away from water because their ears will get wet, and they’ll go deaf.

Fact: Horses may not like being in the rain, but horses must have a regular supply of fresh water so they can drink enough to stay hydrated. Their skin needs moisture too!

Myth: You should never touch a horse’s ears because they’re very sensitive.

Fact: Horses are pretty tough when it comes to their ear canals. They don’t care if you scratch them lightly with your fingers, but be careful not to apply too much pressure and cause pain or discomfort!

Myth: Horses have three sets of teeth and one stomach.

Fact: Horses have four sets of teeth and two stomachs! The extra set of teeth is called a “grinder” because it grinds up the hay, grass, or grain that horses eat to break down its fibers before digesting them in their second stomach.

Myth: Horses are always running around, so they always need a lot of food.

Fact: It’s not the running around that makes horses hungry; it is because they are constantly chewing their cud to digest what they have eaten and produce more saliva in their mouths.

Myth: Horses can’t see anything without their eyes being open.

Fact: Horses can see things just fine with their eyes closed; they have a long eyelash that covers up the sensitive part of their eye when it is shut and also protects them from dust getting in!

One reason horses sleep standing up (rather than lying down) is that being upright allows air to flow freely through the nose and lungs, which helps them stay cool.

A horse’s coat is made of two layers: the first layer can shed water so that it doesn’t get too wet when they’re out in a rainstorm or something like that, but underneath this outer layer is another one with long hairs to keep their body warm during cold weather.

In Conclusion:

Horses are prone to having issues with their ears. This is usually due to a bacterial or fungal infection caused by excessively being wet, or an infestation of ear mites can also cause signs of severe illness. If these symptoms are visible on your horse, it is advised to seek a veterinarian right away to determine if your horse needs medication to treat the infection. In addition, horses should have their ears examined at least once a year.

Horses use their ears for an assortment of different things, including listening for predators and translating sound waves through the air and the ground.

Let’s help keep their ears safe and healthy!