Your horse has 14 muscles that he uses to control the position of his ears to communicate with other horses and express himself. As a prey animal, his ears are highly sensitive to the sound of predators approaching so he can flee from danger. There are also many nerves that come out of the top of his skull to his ears.
Parts of the bridle to look at
If the headpiece is positioned incorrectly it can pinch the ear nerves and muscles, causing discomfort. A shaped headpiece that fits around his ears will help to avoid pressure on this area.
A tight browband can pull the whole bridle forward onto the sensitive area at the back of your horse’s ears. Check you can comfortably run a finger around the inside edge of your browband.
Effect on your horse
Pressure at the base of the ears compresses the sensory nerve endings. This reduces the circulation to the ear muscles, causing a lactic acid build-up in the muscles and pain. If your horse can’t move his ears to hear effectively, it causes anxiety and his stress levels will rise. Other signs to look out for include not liking his ears being touched, being head shy and having an abnormal ear position.
A headpiece and browband that allow your horse to move his ears freely will help him relax while being ridden