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I’m after some advice on how to handle a horse with ears pinned.

Original Question

Hi Angie,

I’m after some advice on how to handle a horse with ears pinned.

I feel Pip is very much a blue horse (but turns red very quickly when unconfident) and I have to make sure that when we do stuff, it feels like ‘play’ not ‘work’ otherwise he gets a bit resentful and doesn’t enjoy the time.

When doing groundwork, such as walk beside/match and mirror, he pins his ears back, scrunches his muzzle and gets a bad expression. Especially if I ask him to walk faster or an upwards transition.

There is a video from this morning doing fore quarter yield as an example.

I have also been doing some work with the flag and he has tried to nip the flag when clearing his shoulder.

Appreciate your advice and thank you in advance.

Kristie & Pip

Angie’s Answer

Hi Kristie,

I have made a short audio recording to explain what I would work on to help with Pip’s ear pinning. Below is a link to Bobby the Brumby’s videos under Follow a Horse. I believe the ear pinning and defensive behaviour is because someone else in his past or you aren’t tuning into his personal space bubble, especially his ‘face bubble’. This behaviour won’t be easy to fix as you will need to SLOW down a lot!
Do lots of desensitisation using approach and retreat of your body movements, being REALLY aware of your posture and energy and reading ALL of his most subtle expressions. Make sure you start around 5 meters away from him and then use approach and retreat, read his thresholds, use arcs and angles to REALLY tune into what he is thinking and feeling about you coming into his ‘face bubble’. The best videos to watch how you go about doing this is with me first working with Bobby the Brumby.

Attached is the short audio and below are the links to Bobby’s videos. Hope this helps, let us all know how you go.

If you do this right, he will trust you so much more and your relationship will really improve.

Link to Website Audio Recording:

AUDIO RECORDING – What to do when a horse pins their ears? What are they really saying?


Link to Bobby the Brumby’s Videos:…/follow-a…/major-bob/


Angie Wicks

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