Yes he is ear shy, a few weeks after we got him I tried to get a bridal on him and as soon as it came near his ear he threw his head up and just kept freaking out so I gave up and everyday(pretty much) since then I have been making a point of touching his ears, now I can bridal him with very little problems. We rode today and aside from being gate sour he did very well, he wasn't really responding to my leg or rein cues, and I have been off from riding for a while so i'm a little nervous, so I had my friend get on and he listened much better to her, except for he threw a little buck when she tried to get him away from the gate...it's been suggested to try giving him about 250mg of benadryl to see if it's some kind of histamine reaction, but I don't want it to make him too sleepy and he gets hurt, he's out 24/7 with a huge run in and our stall is small so i'd take to lock him in there, we only use it for giving grain to my old gelding because he will chase everyone else away from their food
No, do not give him any kind of drugs! That is never the answer!
To retrain a horse like that, shower him with kindness. Spend a lot of time grooming & treating (but do not allow biting) and when you get on him, just walk. Make the ride pleasant & let him know there is nothing to fear. It is called training a horse back, and it is a slow process. Everytime you get on him, reward him for standing still & walking calmly. I used to ride a barrel horse that was ring sour & needed to be "repurposed". I would ride him down the road at a walk to a friend's house, then just sit on him while we talked. Then ride him back, tell him how great he was then get off & feed him. He quickly learnt there would be no pressure, no abuse.
That horse became one of the best, sweetest, kid-safe horse I have ever owned. We could do anything on him EXCEPT run barrels!
So it can be done, but you must never act scared, because that will worry a horse. Try to think "boring" while you are riding & you will relax. Do not worry about riding thru gates or anything yet. You will add that back in once he trusts you.
If you ever feel unsafe, just get off & lead him around then get back on & follow the same route. Change him to a snaffle bridle instead of a curb so the cues are different. Learn the one-rein stop & spin him if he acts up, then ask for a slow walk. Eventually, he will decide that he likes this lazy work and then when his mind is thinking, slow walk 7 stop, then you can start asking for more trot & canter. Remember to use lots of circles to keep his mind busy, go one way then the other.
One of the "old timey" cowboy ways of controlling a horse is to twist their ear, makes for a lot of ear shy horses!