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Need some help with a new horse that may be deaf?

I have recently acquired a young 5 year old splash paint horse, he has to blue eyes and is a medicine hat.
Some people say he is deaf but I believe he can hear certain things as his ears move back back and forth and do not just stand up like some horses I have seen.
He came back to to our barn after some people he had been sold to apparently rodeo’d with him but he came back 700 pounds underweight. He is a 15 hh gelding. His weight is back to normal.
My question is is there any advice anyone can give me in how to work with him.
I’ve lunged him and he bucks a bit but then settles and he will hook on. Some people say he is crazy but I don’t see it as crazy as much as I see it as bordem.
I just want advice - and I have been reading through through the forums as much as possible. Like scouring them honestly.
But there isn’t much on a deaf horse.
He is somewhat spooky but mainly in the stall. Hes very curious.
I know he has been ridden but not by me and not yet. This has been a very recent like 3 days ago type thing.
Any and all advice is appreciated thank you.

Also I should add he was a reining horse - I don’t know if he’s related to Gunner or not. But he will be used as a trail horse.

Has he been tested for splash? Deaf horses are normally floppy eared.

Look to see if he startles at loud noises…maybe wait til he’s in his stall and bang on the door (make sure there’s no visual stimulus for him to startle at). The coloring associated with Gunner have a higher association with deafness. I have no personal experience, but have heard that as long as you take care not to startle them, they are often calmer (as they can’t hear scary noises at shows/events, etc).

As far as training, a little freshness on the longe is not unusual, especially if he settles down to work. It might be a good idea to seek some lessons from a trainer to help you. Maybe even a reining trainer to help you learn his “buttons” or cues that he has been taught as you transition him to his new career?

Here is a good article from QH News about Gunner and the deafness:http://www.quarterhorsenews.com/index.php/news/industry-news/105-genetic-deafness.html

And if your horse is deaf, there is a group on Facebook called the “Deaf Horse Association”…maybe they could guide you on training for that specific disability?

There was an old horseman’s tale that blue eyed horses are wild, and dangerous. The same people consider a horse white around his eye to be spooky. Not so!

As far as deafness, do a little personal observation. Slip in quietly, unseen, and rattle feed tins, then give handful of grain, repeat several times. If he’s normal, he’ll perk up at the sound. :smiley:

I know several deaf reining horses, most of them have active ears but they use them much differently than a hearing horse. Mostly they move back and forth a lot, and then get kind of splayed out to the sides.

They also all all tend to be a wee bit nutty on the lunge at first and then settle down. I’ve noticed that they are not terribly spooky under saddle once they trust their rider, but do startle fairly easily on the ground.

Its worth finding a reining trainer for a few lessons. Plus, most of the good ones have worked with a deaf horse or two due to the prevalence of the Gunner lines.

…He came back to to our barn after some people he had been sold to apparently rodeo’d with him but he came back 700 pounds underweight. He is a 15 hh gelding. His weight is back to normal…[/QUOTE]

He came back 700 lbs underweight? At 15 hh how much did he originally weigh? I’m guessing the average 15hh horse weighs about 1,000 lbs, so losing 700 lbs, are you sure?


I love my deaf horse! Splash overo with two blue eyes. She is extremely lazy and quiet. Her ears move back and forth as well so I don’t know how much she can hear (if anything). I first started to notice it when I would have her in her stall and her head was down eating hay. I could stand outside her stall making noise, shaking a grain bucket, nothing would get her attention. I would move so that I would be in her line of sight and her head would pop up quickly as if she didn’t even know I was there.

Sounds have never bothered her: windy arenas creaking, snow sliding off the roof, gun/cannon fire (I’ve used her in war re-enactments), fireworks, balloons popping, bands, fighter jets flying over head. NOTHING.

She will startle (not really spook, just lift her head, ears forward, be really attentive) when things come into her line of sight rapidly (people walking into the arena, deer coming out of the bush, etc.)

I haven’t had her tested because it doesn’t bother me at all and I never plan on selling her, but she is one of the best horses I’ve had. If you need someone to talk to/bounce ideas off of, shoot me a PM!

The article on Gunner was interesting to me, but begs the question, why do people still breed to him? It invites the offspring to fall into the wrong hands, I would think.

We had a black pony, two blue eyes, and a bald face. She was darling and spared being deaf.

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From the link posted earlier:

But the desire for a talented reining horse seems to outweigh the challenges of dealing with deafness. Gunner stands to a full book every year at a $7,500 fee, and mare owners are well aware of the chances of getting a deaf foal.

:no: :sigh:

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In 45 years in the horse business, I’ve never encountered one known to be deaf; is this a genetic thing in Paints? If so, that’s important to know, because there would be definite safety/handling issues in a herd or stable. Interesting . . .

He is a splash horse.
He also loves to buck a few times on the lunge but settles quickly.
He is does spook a bit on the ground like I said we haven’t ridden yet.
But we’re working on this slowly.
Thank you for all all the help help and advice I appreciate it.

The reining trainer I have worked with has a deaf reiner and is a very sweet, happy horse.
She always said deaf in a show horse was an advantage, because he doesn’t get scared of noises or get nervous when showing.
He is a bald faced, blue eyed colt, I assume maybe Gunner bred.

Just be careful, like with any other horse, until you find out what all it’s quirks may be.

Also a huge typo on my part I didn’t mean 700 pounds I meant 300 pounds! Sorry it was late when I typed it!

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Any training techniques that may help in this venture?

I’m unfamiliar with the term “splash” horse; what does that mean?

A horse that looks like he was dipped in paint. Normally has a lot of white. White face white legs white belly. Very beautiful animals.

[QUOTE=Mtn trails;7486302]
I’m unfamiliar with the term “splash” horse; what does that mean?[/QUOTE]

Splash white is a distinct pinto pattern normally lumped under the blanket term overo.

Gunner is pretty classic splash-

loud splash mini

More minimal-

ETA- even more minimal. DNA tested splash white Morgan stallion.

Both Gunner and Dun Gotta Gun posted above are out of the mare Katie Gun - which is more prevalent in splash paint horse pedigrees than just Gunner.

Katie Gun is also the dam of Spooks Gotta Gun.

There are 3 different splash genes that have been identified.

OP - I was confused as you referred to him as a medicine hat. Medicine hat paints are normally toveros, so the splash would not be as evident as with the examples posted above.

Deaf horses can be great animals. You might have to changeyour actions a little, i.e.making sure you approach from their line of vision or giving a vibrational cue and paying closer attention to your body language while riding. Many folks with deaf horses will tell you they are wonderful animals.

Deafness is thought to be associated with the splash white gene, and seems to be more prevalent in those with white extending past the eyes. One theory is that white spotting (camoflague) and melanocytes (which control hearing) develop around the same time in the fetus, and nature gives preferance to camo. Not all splash pattern horses are deaf, nor do they always pass it on.

I wrote an article on defness, including testing and riding/training tips for the Paint Horse Journal a few years ago. Email me at jhein@apha.com if your interested in purchasing a back issue, and I’ll verify which issue it’s in.

And for the record, people breed to deaf horses like Gunner because their phenomenal performance abilities, trainability and attitudes far outweigh a minor setback like deafness. Many top trainers with experience aboard deaf horses will tell you its not a hinderance, and can even be an asset, though no one intentionally breeds for it.