Q: My new mare has a really strange habit – whenever I put her bridle on, she sticks her tongue out one side of her mouth, then the other. Is this habit anything for me to worry about?
Jane van Lennep answers:
Your mare’s tongue lolling may be due to several things, but as everything else seems normal and this habit does not adversely affect her, I do not think it is a cause for undue concern. However…
- She may not like the coldness of the bit, so you could try warming it up. Stand it in warm water for a few minutes or even just hold it in your hand for a little while to warm it up.
- The bit may be slightly too thick for her mouth, so it takes a while for her to find room for it. She may find a slightly thinner mouthpiece more comfortable.
- It may be worth getting her teeth checked again, just in case. However, they would have to be very bad to affect the way a horse eats. Consider also that the action of the bit can press slightly on the cheeks, making contact with sharp tooth edges that would not otherwise occur.
- The reaching down after she is bridled could also indicate any of the above – and the sniffing you observe could just be breathing, but accentuated due to her lowered head.
You are clearly very observant and also concerned for your horse’s welfare, so continue to monitor her actions and try to find answers for the things she does.
Obviously, horses cannot speak to us, so it is by their actions that they try to talk to us. A caring owner like you does their best to listen and to try to understand what is being said. Keep up the good work – and arrange to have her teeth checked sooner rather than later…