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?