What do I need to do to clean my horse's ears?
For the most part, your horse's ears are "self cleaning" and require very little interference from humans. However, some show horse have clipped ears, in which case we need to keep our eyes peeled for out of the ordinary stuff. Bug bites, sunburn, rashes, scrapes, cuts, you name it. All of these can happen to unclipped ears as well, so don't ignore the fuzzy ears totally.
To "clean" the ears, I still use a lightly damp, soft towel to rub inside the ears to check for lumps, bugs, ticks, etc. You can also use a pimple mitt or two sided rubber curry comb to lightly curry the ears. Many horses appreciate this, many do not! For horses that have clipped ears, I will do the same and be much more diligent about using a roll on (not spray) fly repellent. Spray fly repellents can end up in eyes and sensitive noses. An alternative to roll on fly repellent would be to spray a cloth and wipe bug protection on your horse's ears.
You horse needs to tolerate ear handling. It may take a while to train him, but it's worth it.
There are lots of benefits to handling and wiping ears daily, one being that bridling and clipping is made much easier!! The other benefit is that you are able to better look out for changes in your horse's ears, such as ticks, chiggers, aural plaques, etc.
Don't forget to inspect around the ears - prime locations for bridle and tack rubs.
Horses are also susceptible to mites, and very rare ear infections. You will likely see head shaking and rubbing combined with a very cranky attitude, which is a sure fire sign for you to call your vet. The sensitive ears are also affected by swollen salivary glands at their base, so be sure to check for swelling around the base of the ears also.
Ears up only happens for photos when your horse is about to eat your camera.
It goes without saying that water, medications, shampoos, and the like should not end up in your horse's ears. If something does end up there, call your Veterinarian for a plan of action. If you need to apply topical meds, fly sprays, ointments, or anything else to treat a bug bite or scrape, use sparingly and be sure that nothing can melt and drip into the ear canal.
How do you care for your horse's ears?