A good ear rub can be a healthy and relaxing way to help your horse bond with you. Many of us already reap the benefits of ear massage without really thinking about it.
Massaging the ears will release endorphins in your horse, helping them feel less stress and reduce pain. By stimulating the circulation it can improve the quality of skin in the area.
Ears have a lot of nerve endings right near the surface and are very sensitive to touch. Some horses are not, or are not always, comfortable having their ears touched. It’s important to always approach a horse’s ears gently and with respect. Some horses will need time and the right situation to enjoy ear work.
Here are a few techniques you can try with your horse
Light massage movements can be powerful when stimulating the nerve endings in certain body parts. Try stroking around the whole ear with the fleshy parts of your fingertips. You can also stroke the spot behind the ear where the ear joins the head for a peaceful, relaxing effect.
Place your fingers and thumb on the ear. Keep your fingers still, and slowly and gently move your thumb around in a circle on the ear. Move to a new spot and repeat around the ear. Now do the same the same with your fingers instead, keeping the thumb still.
Pressing or pinching
Acupressure or focused massage can be simple and effective when applied to specific acupuncture points. Press or gently massage an ear point between forefinger and thumb.
The spot behind the ear
The area behind the ear is delicate and sensitive, much like right behind your own ears. This spot can be gently stimulated to help relax a tense head and tight poll, which can help relax a tight topline or headset.
For relaxing ear pulling, start at the base of the ear. GENTLY hold the ear and pull it outward and forward away from head, letting the ear slide through your fingers. Take care to reach all the way to the spot behind the ear where the ear attaches to the the head before gently pulling away.
Moving the entire ear
Gently rotate the ear whole in a circular motion. This will also give a slight side of the head massage, releasing endorphins and fascia.
I’m using a soft towel to massage this horse’s ear partly because she seems to enjoy the texture of the towel and partly because her ears can get dirty or bitten by insects and will benefit from a good cleaning and exfoliation.