Trimming the Ears

Tips for trimming your horse's ears with clippers for the best show turnout.
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Tips for trimming your horse's ears with clippers for the best show turnout.

Even if your horse is good about having his ears trimmed, handle them first to tune him in to what you're doing--you don't want to shock him by suddenly laying the clippers on an ear. As you clip, hold the ear with your other hand to absorb the vibration and make the process less ticklish.

  1. Start by folding the ear in half so one edge protrudes beyond the other. This position exposes the least sensitive area, the outside edges of the inside of the ear. With the clipper blade slightly angled so you don't get the outside of the ear, make several downward passes--you'll get a rough cut of both edges and the longest of the inside hair.
  2. When your horse tolerates your clipping the edges, let the ear open up--still with your hand against the back of it, so your palm supports the clipper's pressure and absorbs its vibration, and your thumb in the center with just a little pressure. Now you're going to sculpt the outside edges: You'll start at the tip and make three passes, using different angles each time: one...
  3. ...slightly to the rear of the edge (you won't actually clip the back of the ear), a second one dead on, and a third slightly to the inside. You'll keep each of those three angles all the way around the outside.
  4. Go back to the top and come down more of the inside edge; don't go all the way down into the inside yet because that's the most ticklish area. Keep cleaning out the ear with a mostly downward motion, never digging in but going against the growth of the hair. Keep looking for missed areas, sometimes turning the ear so it's flat (but never bent back--that's very uncomfortable), to get the hair around the cartilage.
  5. This is the area any horse least likes you working on: the deepest or really inner part of the ear. I gently use my thumb to expose the hairy part of the inner surfaces a little more. By doing that, I desensitize it as well.
  6. And finally I finish the inner surfaces, keeping my hand on the back.

For more trimming tips, on removing excess hair from your horse's legs, see the "Barn Savvy" column in the November 2002 Practical Horseman magazine.