I just read an article written by a veterinarian that suspected that the reason that horses yawn (unlike humans) is a display of discomfort. Sometimes they do it when you take the bridle off to adjust jaw? Anyone have any ideas on this. I find this interesting as I never saw it as something related to pain.
Yawning doesn't always mean discomfort (I can't really argue with a vet), however, it doesn't always mean they are right. Yawning sometimes means that they are relaxed or lazy, other times it indicates that they are bored or tired with what is going on. The bit only causes discomfort when harshly used or the horse has a problem with it's teeth or something else. Hope I helped.
The article was in the Horse.com newsletter. I was skeptical yet interested as I always assumed that the horse's yawn, like people and other animals, was a relaxation sign. I was surprised that some vets thought something entirely different. When my horse yawns he certainly doesn't appear to be in pain of any sort. Thanks for your opinion on the subject.
When I was grooming my horse yesterday in the paddock, she yawned several times and almost fell asleep. She was indeed very relaxed in the sun with me brushing her gently, so I would say that there can certainly be several reasons for the horses to yawn. One could be discomfort (I heard that as well), but another is without doubt a sign of relaxation.
I always thought a yawn was the body's way of getting in more oxygen, but without the adrelaline. I've never seen a horse yawn from pain or discomfort that I am aware of. However, I have had issues with my more dominant mare -- she used to yawn in my face and I always told her that wasn't allowed. Seemed far too agressive to me. She could turn her head and I didn't need her teeth in my face!
Any one else find themselves yawning while reading this thread? (no not because it's boring), I know yawns are contagious but I didn't know that just reading about it could trigger the reaction... I've yawned 3 times!