One of the most common signs of deafness is a lack of reaction to sound: Perhaps your horse no longer seems to notice when you cluck at her, or he stands calmly when the truck backfires while the rest of the horses in the barn all jump. You may notice that your horse does not react to sudden noises and spooks easily.
Having a blue iris, however, does not make a horse any more likely to have intraocular problems, including equine recurrent uveitis. Horses hear sounds over a wider range of frequencies than we do, although the decibel levels they respond to are about the same.
As prey animals, horses prefer to stay in herds, and communication is accomplished by body language rather than vocalization and sound. Prof Bright adds: “That said, they do use their exquisite sense of hearing to pick up on changes in their environment, also a characteristic of prey animals.
“ Horses are good at communicating in other ways (for example, interpreting visual and olfactory cues) so that they may be able to hide any changes in hearing from the humans who work with them.” Loss of hearing with age does not appear to be as significant for horses as it is for humans, as the Fetch data in the above chart illustrates.
Prof Bright adds: “One of our doctoral students, Brenna Melvin, recently completed a study comparing the brain stem auditory evoked responses (Bars) of young and old horses. However, its possible environment rather than physiology is the cause of the difference between the deterioration of human and equine hearing.
She adds: “We concluded from this study that what we consider age-related hearing loss in humans may actually be the cumulative effect of noise exposure, toxic substances, and other environmental factors occurring over a lifespan. “It is possible that purely age-related effects cannot be studied in humans because of all the confounding factors inherent in modern living.
Deafness can be partial or full, meaning your horse may react to sudden loud noises, but struggle to hear everything. However, on the other hand, he may not react to any noise and you may notice he is easily startled due to not being able to rely on his hearing.
While deafness will change your horse’s life, it does not mean he is not capable of living a fulfilling one. He may no longer respond to verbal cues; he may tilt his head and exhibit abnormal gait, among many other possible symptoms.
The 3 main causes of deafness in your horse stem from trauma, infection and congenital defects. If your suspect your horse is suffering from deafness, a visit with the veterinarian will be necessary to identify the underlying cause of his symptoms.
It will be important to identify and share with the veterinarian if your horse has recently experienced any injury or trauma that could be the cause of his symptoms. This exam will help to determine more signs and symptoms that your horse may be suffering that could lead towards a differential diagnosis of deafness.
Treatment options will be based on the underlying cause of your horse’s deafness. However, if the event is trauma or congenital, there may not be any way to correct the damage done to your horse’s hearing.
If the cause is an cytotoxic medication, cessation of the drug may resolve a temporary deafness. Treatment will revolve around training and working with your horse’s abilities rather than trying to correct the hearing loss.
If your horse developed deafness later in his life and was already trained, it will be easier to work with him on adapting. I have had my 11 yr old Alpha gelding for 3 years now and I’m still discovering to what extent he is ‘ deaf ’.
The previous owners were NOT horsed people but WERE animal lovers and took him in from a family member that had to move across state and could not keep him. Many people I have met since that new him and his original owners, have told me they ‘heard’ he was ‘ deaf also.
With questionable consistencies in the history of his training he is more responsive to visual and physical cues than vocal commands, but he does ‘hear’ some things. He would stop off the bridle reins and leg/seat cues, but he completely ignored ‘Whoa’.
I often joked that he could pretend very well that he was deaf ….except that when I ‘kissed’ to ask for a lope, he took off like a race horse! “Although it’s rare among horses as a whole, deafness has become more frequent in the reining arena as Gunner’s descendants and relations show off their talent.
Trainers who have ridden them say their schooling just requires a bit of creativity. But the desire for a talented reining horse seems to outweigh the challenges of dealing with deafness.
As the article above made note of there has been a definite increase in the number of deaf horses in the reining events. Most of the trainers also agree that there are just some adjustments that need to be made when you are riding or training these horses.
PDF will be delivered to the email address you enter as will weekly tip from Stacy. The use of animals to provide service and therapy to enhance people’s health and lives and to provide greater independence has been practiced throughout recorded history.
While the most commonly recognized therapy and/or service animals are dogs, the use of horses as therapy animals for people who are Deaf is becoming increasingly popular. Miniature horses are not well suited for assisting .
Horses do not possess the “watch dog” instinct which is important for a hearing assistance animal. Horses are known to possess a particular ability to break through the wall of isolation and frustration which can be frequently present in the lives of people who are deaf.
Vanessa Britton (1991) identified additional benefits of horse therapy to include: For example, if a horse hears something, like a loud noise, dog barking, or people laughing, they are able to alert the rider by responding with different body signals; Such as, raising of the head, tensing of the body, turning towards of the sound.
As a deaf rider becomes more astute at recognizing these types of signals, it will contribute to developing an increased sensory awareness. Robin Tulsa writes, “Since effective communication is the key in teaching riding to anyone, regardless of disability, it is especially important in the case of a deaf child”.
Anything that can be done to promote more effective communication with deaf students will make learning to ride easier and more enjoyable. ·Some deaf persons may have a diminished sense of rhythm, teaching them concepts, such as posting to a trot, should be taught at a walk before moving to the next level.
· Demonstration is one of the most effective techniques to introduce and reiterate riding concepts. It’s important for the instructor to establish new techniques by direct communication with the deaf rider before they then try it on their own.
I had the privilege of meeting and observing a session with a local individual who provides horse therapy to the disabled. Deb Amid on, owner of Edgeworth farms has been providing therapeutic services with horses since 1996.
The service is offered to several organizations in the Cortland County, New York area. The students range widely including those who are severely autistic, mentally disabled, blind, hard of hearing, and deaf.
Several of her students have gone to the Special Olympics with horses from her stable. In speaking with Ms. Amid on about her experiences with deaf persons she reiterated positively all the areas identified by Vanessa Britton above.
Students who are deaf achieve a sense of well-being, independence, and freedom through interacting with her horses. She also agreed that as an instructor teaching a deaf student to ride, it’s important that they see you and that you develop a language you both understand.
One of the things she strives to do with all her students is to have them “be as independent as they can be.” (Amid on, 2012). It will be important for the instructor to establish a means of communication with a deaf or hard of hearing person, learning the basics of sign language and additional signs unique to riding instruction.
When an instructor is able to develop a connection between the student and the therapy horse, the benefits of teaching the deaf to ride far outweigh the challenges. A Brief Information Resource on Assistance Animals for the Disabled.
Animal Welfare Information Center, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (PATH) International.
Main web page and Frequently asked Miniature Horse Questions. Commonly Asked Questions about Service Animals in Places of Business.
Websites of additional articles on Therapy horses & Service Animals: Notes: Observed 4 different riders, some who had to be assisted, one who was able to ride by himself and understood direction and could guide the horse independently.
Check out “ASLUniversity.com” (a free mirror of Lifeprint.com less traffic, fast access) VISIT > I picked up a young colt and his dam last month, both are lovely paints, both have full bald faces with a bonnet, and I found out quick the colt is deaf, but only realized today that the mare is as well.
She isn’t able to be ridden because of an injury, but I am definitely going to be on the colt when he is older. I’ve heard that deaf horses do quite well in the ring because they can’t hear all the commotion and noise that goes along with showing, but I’d like some first-hand information about that.
Main thing is to make sure they can see you when you approach so that you don't startle them. It's kind of a pain if you have large pastures, and they space their herd mates coming in when you call because then you have to go get them but it doesn't happen often. Keep in mind I've not dealt with it but I would think you'd train them like any other horse.
If you're one to use vocal cues you'll have to come up with alternatives and I think they would learn touch cues just as fast as they do vocal ones as long as you stay consistent. They are on a small pasture with a few other horses, none of them will hurt the pair.
I plan on showing the colt for sure, he is very long and elegant, very big. Most likely will see what he is good at, but English Equitation or hunter under saddle are definitely options for him.
When I read your post I didn't think about the colt not being able to hear the mare. I wish I could remember how to post a pic here, I would put a few up of the colt and his mother.
I am not on FB, but will be looking for other deaf horse forums On those forums they talk about the deafness being in the genetics of the painted horses and I think they mentioned blue eyes as well.
Other than the obvious advice like not coming up behind them and using non-audible commands, I don't know if there's something else you can use to help them out. They mentioned feeling vibrations and touches more acutely, but I kept thinking back to your post about the mare calling out and neither one hearing.
I repeat it if he approaches it again, and he generally gets the idea after a couple of times. Since I can't verbalize to my colt, I am figuring out other ways to get his attention.
If I am cooing to them, my touch is automatically softer and more gentle than if I am getting after them about something. I find it is a habit I have when dealing with my hearing herd, so I keep doing it with the two deaf horses.
I think he will learn as well as any of my hearing foals, so I will continue how I have been until I need to do something else if that comes along. I am getting more confident by the day, his dam being deaf also is helping me learn at double time how to get their attention without spooking them.
I think vibrations would make them more nervous, but it is an interesting thought. But for now, I am handling them as I do my other horses, but am more aware of being in front of them or within eyesight of them to get their attention, I never approach them from the flank area or backside.
Having two deaf granddaughters has also been a help, I already know how to get their attention if they aren't already looking at me. Here is a recent pic of Stryker with his best friend, a 15-month-old cutting bred filly named Patter.
I'm always fascinated by how similar mares and foals can be, especially the Paints and Apps. Deafness in equines may be related to old age, congenital factors in Paint horses, or exposure to cytotoxic drugs such as gentamicin.
This measures the response of the vestibulocochlear (eighth cranial) nerve and the auditory centers in the brain stem to sound. It uses click stimuli of different decibels and the response can be collected using three recording needles placed under the skin of the head.
This result is consistent with partial deafness in the group, though this condition was not obvious to the handlers of the horses. This test can be used to monitor hearing loss and determine management strategies to cope with partial deafness in horses.
Humans don’t founder, although a diabetic’s loss of blood supply to the legs has some comparable pathology. Contrary, the forelimbs and hind limbs of the horse are essentially devoid of muscle below their so-called knees and hocks, with the tendons and ligaments being a “spring loading” system of recoil that adds to their efficiency of movement. Because we stand upright, and they are prone, this creates the forelimb concussion issue for the horse, but also loads the spring.
Horses don’t have clavicles (collarbones), so the front limbs are held to the body by soft tissue alone (muscle, tendons, and fibrous sheets of fascia). Internally, the horse has lungs similar to ours, but a gastrointestinal tract that is more complicated.
Humans are omnivores (eating both meat and plant material), while the horse is a herbivore (grass eater or grazing species). If the valve is not stimulated, the horse can passively reflux up to the oral cavity.
Horses and humans have similar small intestines divided into the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The horse’s gastrointestinal tract is subject to parasite infestation that can cause problems.
The cecum is a large “blind sac” in the horse, analogous to the human’s relatively small appendix. The cecum and colon of the horse combine to provide digestive hind-gut fermentation.
The colon is about 35 feet long in the horse and unsecured enough to displace or twist, causing mild to severe colic. The horse’s eyes are located to where vision is almost a complete arc with only a minimal blind spot in the front and one down a line in the back.
This allows for predators to be spotted from the rear, and we often learn unexpectedly that the horse can generate its “spook” or flight response from a perceived threat that comes from behind. Human eyes are obviously focused to the front, like most predators, and our opposition can easily sneak up on us from the rear.
Outside the occasional ear wiggling by a comic, we must turn our heads to increase our sound reception. These air-purifying features of the head help horses tolerate much of the adverse air environment of stall confinement.
This distribution aspect of pathogens becomes more equal to the horse when humans become “bedridden.” It has been shown that tying the horse’s head up–such as during transport–increases the potential to develop respiratory disease.
We would need to stand on our heads to duplicate the horse’s clearance mechanism. But horse’s can cheat our observation skills by having both hair and pigment to hide injury or disease.
The findings are the cardiac electrical conduction systems of a stalking predator versus a flight animal, the latter having an enormous ability for the athletic first response that can take a heart rate from resting to about 300 beats per minute coming out of a starting gate. The horse epitomizes the aspects of being a flight animal by its unique heart electrical conduction system, its spleen, and the act of birthing.
The horse shows status as a flight animal by its unique heart electrical conduction system, its spleen, and the act of birthing. The differences lie in the ability to contract the cardiac muscle fibers by activating electrical stimulation, not in a linear highway of conduction (type A), but that of a conduction system that reverses direction at the same time as flowing forward.
For example, cardiac axis determinations used to localize infarcts or individual heart chamber enlargements in humans is rarely definitive in horses. They obviously don’t need blood doping since the adrenalin of the flight response results in the contraction of the spleen.
The act of foaling separates the mare from all other species by an explosive process that takes 20-45 minutes to complete. The human birthing can be long hours in the process–and a toddler takes one to two years to get up and moving on two legs.
Their size dictates that excessive ground contact causes skin, muscle, and bone secondary trauma. Horses are essentially deaf -mutes dependent upon human interpretation of their needs.
The horse to human bond grows perpetually both physically and emotionally by understanding and education. The instinctive behaviors of a horse include flight and claustrophobia (while humans have panic attacks!).