What you see. The starting point for addressing any equine health related issue is your observation.


Ear Drooping or Cocked


An ear that is cocked off to one side can be a sign of something causing pain or irritation to the ear canal, the ear itself (pinna) or the skin or tissues around the ear. It can result from the existence of a foreign body such as a hay stem, ear ticks, ear mites, severe aural plaques, sarcoid or an infected wound.

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your role


What To Do

Assess your horse's general health with the Whole Horse Exam (WHE), and if your horse yields to pressure on the halter, gently examine their ear and try to find the offending cause. Standing in front of the horse (careful to move quickly out of the way), compare the position of the two ears. Is there a difference between the two sides? Share your findings and concerns with your vet.

What Not To Do

Do not insert anything into your horse's ear as the eardrum can be damaged. Do not struggle with your horse to look into their ear.

your vet's role


Following a general physical exam your vet will carefully assess the ear and surrounding areas. Sedation for a proper ear examination may be necessary. Ear examination may require an otoscope. In some cases, a cause is not found. In that case, symptomatic treatment might be needed for a time before more aggressive and expensive diagnostics are employed.
Questions Your Vet Might Ask:
  • Does the horse seem to be shaking its head or tilting it to one side?
  • Does your horse seem normal otherwise?
  • When did you first notice this?
  • Have you been able to look in the horse's ear?
  • What is the horse's age, sex, breed and history?
  • Do you notice abnormal eye movements?
  • Do you notice anything inside the horse's ear?
  • What are the results of the Whole Horse Exam (WHE)?

Diagnoses Your Vet May Consider

The cause of the problem. These are conditions or ailments that are the cause of the observations you make.

Very Common
Less Common
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Treatments Your Vet May Recommend

A way to resolve the condition or diagnosis. Resolving the underlying cause or treating the signs of disease (symptomatic treatment)

Very Common
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Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP