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I've recently started doing target training with an 11y/o mare. She will walk and spin and stretch like a dream but once she starts trotting, her ears pin and stay pinned until we start walking again. Could this be a sign of pain, or is she just anxious to touch the target so she can get a treat? She isnt visibly lame (no limping while walking or trotting) but its possible there could be some other problem that I cant see.
 

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to be truly honest, without a video, it's hard to say. It could be physical discomfort. Or, more likely, it is her feeling resentment toward how you are asking her to move on.

The difference is huge. I could only judge that by watching how you lunge her. Sorry, I suppose this answer is not so easily helpful to you.


Perhaps more information about your own background, and this mares background might be the first thing to add to this discussion.


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Are you riding or on the ground? It's possible it could be pain related, especially if you're riding - and just from the title I assumed that was probably the case, but I'd guess it's more about attitude & she's 'chasing down a treat' in her mind. It depends what stage of training we're at & when/how she does this as to whether I'd discourage it actively, not reinforce her when she's doing it(regardless what else she may be doing), or just ignore it.
 

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Are you on the ground or astride?

First off there is pinning a ear and there is pinning ears...
A ear laid back in warning...
A ear laid back listening...

Has it occurred to you the pony may put its ears back to better tune in to your words, your breathing trying to "connect" with you?
Or indeed, she may be telling you she is going to "connect" with you in warning language you need to learn to read and interpret to be safe.
The first 2 pictures are "pinned" sending a message to you...
The second 2 pictures is ears back listening to your conversation for tuning you in and outside distraction out..

The last picture is a "listening ear"...animal is fully aware you are their, paying attention to you and your body language and receptive to doing what is asked..
Some horses also just "pin" the ear when moving faster than a walk if they not want wind, noise. bugs or such to enter the sensitive ear canal..

There is a huge difference...
Which it is you have, only you know...
:runninghorse2:...
 

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She may just be listening to you, hard to say without seeing her ears. It could also be discomfort though, depending on how they are 'pinned'.
 
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