Hearing Loss in Adult Horses

Hearing loss occurs but is seldom reported. Learn about this condition, which impacts horses’ behavior and performance.
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Hearing Loss in Adult Horses
Horses with chronic hearing loss might be adapted to their environment; therefore, this deficit might go undetected until exposed to an unfamiliar situation. | Photo: Thinkstock
Have you ever strained to hear your trainer over a blustery wind, pattering rain on an arena roof, or a crowded warmup arena at a competition? Guess what—you might not have been the only one. Although not often reported, horses can have a hard time hearing, as well.

At the 2014 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 6-10 in Salt Lake City, Utah, Monica Aleman, MVZ, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), School of Veterinary Medicine, reviewed auditory loss in adult horses with veterinary attendees.

“Hearing loss occurs in horses but is seldom reported,” Aleman said, “and it could impact behavior, training, and performance.”

Although hearing loss isn’t always complete, horses with even some degree of auditory loss can feel the impact

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Erica Larson, former news editor for The Horse, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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