Why does he play with and bite his own tongue? - The Horse Forum

 
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post #1 of 7 Old 03-03-2011, 08:47 AM Thread Starter
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Why does he play with and bite his own tongue?

Just wondering if I should be worried about something dental, physical or if it’s just downright boredom. Sorry in advance for the lengthiness of this.

My horse is constantly playing with his tongue. There are a few different behaviors/actions he displays, and so far I have chalked it up to boredom…or perhaps dental issues?

While grooming him, he will stand there doing what I can only describe as what looks like tying to swallow his tongue? Picture a human trying to touch their tonsils with the tip of their tongue. He also does this when I put the bit in his mouth - at first I thought he was trying to get his tongue over the bit, but the fact that he does it without a bit and is totally responsive and doesn’t play with his tongue/bit undersaddle leads me to believe it’s a boredom thing, or perhaps his teeth are bothering him?

He has always been very mouthy – he grooms me when I groom him, tries to chew on lead shanks, flaps his bottom lip incessantly when he is anxious about something and rubs everything he is interested in, in a back and forth motion with his upper lip.

Last night however, was the oddest thing I have witnessed him do yet. He was standing in his stall when I saw him moving his upper lip like crazy – back and forth, back and forth. Upon closer inspection, I saw his tongue sticking out, moving the opposite direction as his lips…he was literally chasing his own tongue much like a dog chasing his tail! He then “caught” his tongue and had it in a death-grip with his front teeth. I chuckled for a moment, until I realized he wasn’t letting go. I was worried he was going to hurt himself at this point so I interrupted him, which took a bit of persuasion to get him to ‘let go’. What the heck was that all about???

I wondered if it might be a dental thing, but he has always done the tongue ‘sucking’ thing, prior and post floating – now, biting his tongue on the other hand, is a new one. My other thought is that his tongue may be too large – I have read that some horses can have a large tongue…could this be the case? How do you check for a large tongue or low pallet?

Was going to call the vet today, but wondered if I am just overreacting to a display of boredom? I have owned him for less than a year, so I am still trying to figure him out. What do you guys think?

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle ~ Winston Churchill"
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post #2 of 7 Old 03-03-2011, 11:33 AM Thread Starter
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I know it's a bit of a silly question, but input would be lovely...anyone?

"No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle ~ Winston Churchill"
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post #3 of 7 Old 03-03-2011, 12:55 PM
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It sounds like boredom as long as he doesn't hurt himself. You may call and just ask a vet about it over the phone. My only concern would be him "catching" his tongue and then getting jarred somehow and actually biting it.
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post #4 of 7 Old 03-03-2011, 02:18 PM
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It's actually a stress thing. It sounds like what he's doing is pulling his tongue back and chewing on the sides which releases endorphins and can be indicative of ulcers. It wouldn't hurt to talk to your vet about ulcers, potentially scoping and options for treatment. Often times, they'll let you try a round of treatment because scoping isn't pleasant or cheap.
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post #5 of 7 Old 03-03-2011, 08:17 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by memcwhit View Post
It's actually a stress thing. It sounds like what he's doing is pulling his tongue back and chewing on the sides which releases endorphins and can be indicative of ulcers. It wouldn't hurt to talk to your vet about ulcers, potentially scoping and options for treatment. Often times, they'll let you try a round of treatment because scoping isn't pleasant or cheap.
I would have never linked the tongue behaviors to ulcers! Thanks for bringing that to my attention - he has actually had ulcers in the past and was treated. As a preventative, he is on free choice hay (as much grazing time as possible in summer as well) and I have him on two products by OmegaAlfa called Biotic 8 used in conjunction with Gastra-FX. He is also put on GastroGuard prior and during any types of stressful events such ad shipping, for shows etc.*

Would the tongue sucking suggest that he is still suffering from the ulcers? I was positive that we had them under control as he has shown no other symptoms for quite some time. Or is it possible that it has become a learned behavior at this point? He has done it ever since I have owned him...

I have never had him scoped, but perhaps it's time to discuss this route with the vet to find out what's actually going on in there...
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post #6 of 7 Old 03-03-2011, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SEAmom View Post
It sounds like boredom as long as he doesn't hurt himself. You may call and just ask a vet about it over the phone. My only concern would be him "catching" his tongue and then getting jarred somehow and actually biting it.
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I don't think he has hurt himself yet, *knock on wood*, but it is a concern. Thanks for the reply!
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post #7 of 7 Old 03-04-2011, 11:45 AM
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Originally Posted by kpptt2001 View Post
I would have never linked the tongue behaviors to ulcers! Thanks for bringing that to my attention - he has actually had ulcers in the past and was treated. As a preventative, he is on free choice hay (as much grazing time as possible in summer as well) and I have him on two products by OmegaAlfa called Biotic 8 used in conjunction with Gastra-FX. He is also put on GastroGuard prior and during any types of stressful events such ad shipping, for shows etc.*

Would the tongue sucking suggest that he is still suffering from the ulcers? I was positive that we had them under control as he has shown no other symptoms for quite some time. Or is it possible that it has become a learned behavior at this point? He has done it ever since I have owned him...

I have never had him scoped, but perhaps it's time to discuss this route with the vet to find out what's actually going on in there...
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Honestly, it could go either way, but if he's not showing any other symptoms, then it may be just a learned behavior. The only thing I can offer is to go with your gut b/c you know your horse and can tell when he's not right. ;)
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