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Scottie’s Manky Ear

Scottie wearing a mask to protect his manky ear

On Thursday Scottie was really reactive about his head collar going over his ear. This is very unlike him and having a closer look I saw that his ear was a bit scabby and crusty. It was a bank holiday, but I phoned the out of hours vet for advice. While I can honestly say I don’t look inside his ears every day, he hadn’t been funny with anything going over his ears the previous afternoon. Although when I think back, he might have been a bit sensitive in the morning.

On the whole, Scottie is pretty good about his ears. He doesn’t really like damp sponges near them or you putting anything in them. But he is always happy, or at least tollerates, you touching them, folding them under bridles etc. So he isn’t a headshy horse really. Although a few weeks to a month ago, he did have a few days, maybe a week when he would shake his head as you pulled his headcollar over his ears. I remember him being happy for me to touch and look in his ears then and I couldn’t see anything. It seemed to clear up by itself. But I do now wonder if this might have been the start of something.

On Thursday the vet said it sounded like an allergic reaction to a fly bite or something like that. If I could give it a wipe, I should. Maybe give him some bute or antihistimines and keep it covered with a fly mask. I had some sedaline left over, but even with 5mls, Scottie wouldn’t really let me get near it to give it any sort of clean. So I decided just to keep it covered. Swapping fly masks day and night. I noticed a big difference in him in the field wearing a mask. He wasn’t really wiggling his ear at all.

I gave him bute the first day and gave him antihistimines over the weekend and he generally looked better. The ear did get a bit scabbier before the antihistamines. But I put that down to it being itchy and him rubbing. After the antihistamines it looked more like the scabs were old and falling off. On Sunday I was even able to touch the outside of his ear, the first time since it had started.

Scottie's manky ear on Sunday
You can see that his left ear is a bit scabby on the inside but looks ok.

Monday morning things were a lot worse. I could see thick yellow gunk coming out of his eye and I could see marks on his mask where his ear was weeping. It had weeped so much the mask was stuck to his ear. After I managed to get the mask off him, his ear looked pretty grim and he kept holding it funny and tilting his head to the side. It now really felt like there was some sort of infection and I wanted a vet to look at it ASAP.

Scottie's manky ear
But on Monday his ear looked completely different and quite disgusting. His gunky eye was also worrying.

Even with 2 lots of sedation and a twitch, Scottie’s ear was too sore for him to let the vet clean it. But she was able to get a good look at his ear and his eye. She is confident that his eye is fine. She thinks it might just be a case of he irritated it in the mask while rubbing his ear. But she gave him some eye drops just to be safe.

She is fairly confident that his ear is some sort of reaction to a bite, sting or maybe a plant in the hedgerow. The ear is very swollen and inflamed. But it doesn’t look like he has had anything stuck further down and most the damage looks to be fairly external. She also said that ear infections are quite unusual in horses and are usually secondary to things like fly bites and objects getting stuck in their ear.

In an ideal world, she would have cleaned it up, clipped the hair out and applied a steroid cream. But since Scottie was having none of that, we are hoping that giving him other medication will make him more comfortable and heal from the inside out. He had a steroid injection and an injection of painkillers which should give him a little boost. He will have a few days worth of bute and 5 days worth of antibiotics, mainly because he hasn’t let us clean it and there’s a higher chance of secondary infection.

I haven’t tried touching it, instead I am touching his good ear. He is letting me touch it and even put my finger in. So I am hoping once his ear starts to feel better this will translate to his bad ear. It looked a bit drier this morning and I was able to get a fly mask on which was a relief as I didn’t want him going out in the field without one as flies will be drawn to that ear.

Now it’s just a bit of a waiting game. Once he is more comfortable, we do want to get in there and give it a clean up as this will help the healing. But until then we have drugs and just need to try and keep it as covered as I can. But on the plus side, he is now sound after his strange lameness episode!

Last Updated on 07/06/2022

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