Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Ontario, Canada
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"