You ride a horse, it suddenly gets scared, then freezes in place, raising its head high and turning its ears back and forth, like antennas. Your heart is pounding, you are tensing to hear what it is listening to, but the moments pass in complete silence and you understand that your horse hears what you do not hear.
Understanding how your horse’s hearing is different from yours and how its reaction to sounds is different from yours can provide valuable information about its behavior. This can help you anticipate and possibly avoid the dangerous horse-eater or reduce the horse’s anxiety in such “noisy” situations, such as competitions.
sound of silence
Like all animals (including humans), the horse has binaural hearing, which means that its ears can hear sound at the same time. Her outer ear, known as pinnae, works like a satellite dish, capturing sound waves and directing them to the inner ear. Due to the large cupped shape of the horse’s outer ear, only a small number of sounds can hide from it, especially compared to our small, flat ears. Therefore, the horse’s ear can capture sounds that we might miss.
Another reason why a horse can detect sounds that people don’t hear is the ability to perceive a wider range of high-frequency tones, such as the bat’s ultrasonic squeak. For the animal victim, which is a horse, such hearing acuity is vital.
In its natural habitat (open plains), other animals, including predators, are the only objects besides natural phenomena that create noise. Predators usually do not make vocal sounds when pursuing prey, so the horse always listens to the sounds. that a hiding predator can publish – steps, crackling twigs, the noise of crushed grass.
This rustle makes high-pitched sounds that your horse analyzes to determine the direction from where they come. The horse needs only a rough indication of where the sound came from – this already makes it ready to run in the opposite direction. If the sound tells the horse that the flight may be justified, she will turn her gaze in this direction, and then she will raise and turn her head in this direction to concentrate better, freezing in one position, so as not to give out her position. (You must have seen how grazing horses do it. They also stop chewing in order to hear better). If the horse eventually feels the danger, it will most likely get scared and run away.
Yes, a fright. A sharp turn. And do not forget about the spacing. These equine “survival tools” emphasize the fact that your horse not only hears differently, but can also react differently to sound. That’s why horses give a very strong emotional response to any sensory signal that they can receive. And their main emotion is fear. Fear triggers a flight mechanism (and puts you in danger of falling or racing with a horse). We humans often curse horse shyness, but this reaction is very important. The horse does not want to be brave. If she is too brave, then, most likely, she will eventually become the prey of a predator. The best way to stay alive is to run first, then think.
If you spend a lot of time with horses, you probably noticed that some of them, like some people, are more emotional or shy than others. One horse can listen to the slightest sound; the other does not even respond to loud noises. Stallions can react more simply because they are traditionally “guard dogs” in the herd. They do not necessarily hear better mares, but they feel the need to warn their herd of possible danger. This is why some horses experience more anxiety than others in tournaments or in any new conditions. A strange place can cause your horse to go into “hazard detection” mode, making her emotionally agitated and making her reaction to noise even stronger than in a familiar environment. If she is one of those horses near whom even fireworks are launched, then her anxiety will most likely not lead to undesirable behavior. But if the horse is naturally shy, this will not only interfere with your performance, but may also harm you.
You can reduce the reaction to noise in your horse by blocking most of the noise with earplugs. You can easily find them in the equestrian store or order on the equestrian site. Or you can make your own plugs using sale.
When riding, watch your horse’s ears to avoid the possibility of a horse-eating. They will signal you the direction in which “danger” may appear. For example, if you see something developing in the wind on the left, look at the horse’s left ear to see if it perceives this item as a possible threat.