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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got my mare in August and I've noticed that every time I go to reach for the bridle she starts yawning. I always just thought that it was funny and cute. I recently read that yawning can be a sign of ulcers, and since she is prone to ulcers, I started wondering. (By prone I mean that she eats a lot of grain, is nervous about a lot of things, and is worked a lot. But, she also has free choice hay all day everyday). I also know that yawning is a sign of relaxation and her being calm.

So which is it? Yawning for relaxation or yawning for ulcers?
 

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When I yawn I always say "just re-oxygenating the brain." I think horses do the same thing. I think it's more of a sign of relaxation. Nothing to worry about as far as I know. If they start hanging their front teeth on something (cribbing) then it's time to worry.
 

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Could be. Do you put the bit in after grooming, saddling and cinching? She may know the final stage is at hand.
 

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I have four geldings. While they will yawn if I come in the barn unexpectedly and turn the lights on (waking them up), the only time any of them yawn (as I have learned) is if they are in some sort of discomfort.

While it is ulcers with my Arab, it doesn't have to be limited to ulcers. It can be anything.

I have one horse who foundered pretty bad and ended up with torn ligaments from a trim gone bad. He did a lot of yawning until he healed.

As far as only yawning when she sees the bridle coming at her, that could be a learned response from an old issue.

Maybe she had tooth issues that went un-noticed and the bridle bothered her.

Maybe she has something wrong in the poll area to where the bridle makes her uncomfortable.

Or maybe she's sandbagging you so you won't put the bridle on her.

Are you able to contact the previous owners to ask them if she did this with them?

If this behavior is consistent, the only way to know what's up with her is to have her examined:)
 

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I have seen many of the horses yawn after they have been ridden for a while in the time between you take the bridle off and put the halter on- I think it's just because their heads are free and horses are silly :p
 

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The horse i ride always yawns with the bridle on but it's because he always bites the inside of his cheek (because he has a bad tooth, he's getting them floated soon) but that's the only time he yawns is when he has a bridle on. Check her teeth?
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Darn, I just noticed that The Horse article won't open unless you're signed in. Sorry. That is a great horse health site to join. I can copy and paste the article if you're just dying to read it .
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all of the answers! She is just 4 and straight off the track, so she either just does it with me, or learned it at the track. She had a baby tooth until a few weeks ago. She got her teeth done and the guy said that since all of her baby teeth were gone, he could even out all of her teeth. She starts yawning the second I'm done with the girth. I don't see her yawn other times, so I guess I can rule out ulcers?

It could also be her stretching her jaw like you posted Vidaloco. She likes streching, often stretching her front legs out and bowing like a dog.

I guess since I know it's not teeth and it's likely not ulcers, I can rule out discomfort and just say it's a quirk of hers? Anyway- It makes putting the bridle on easy- Just slip the bit in while her mouth is open :)
 

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Are you sure she's yawning, or could she be opening and crossing her jaw? Similar to licking and chewing. There is an off the track QH at my barn and he does this, he doesn't yawn but he crosses his jaws and sometimes plays with his lips or licks and chews. It is just a habit he picked up from the track, and he seems to do it of of boredom, nervousness, or anxiety. It's just him
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
It looks like she's yawning... opening her mouth top teeth go one way bottom teeth go the other and then she closes her mouth and does it again...

Now that you mention that- when the bit is actually in her mouth, it looks more like she's pushing it with her tounge. It looks like the yawning, but she doesn't open her mouth as much and she stiffens her lips. How wuold I know the difference between yawning and something else? I'll try to take a video of it tomorrow.
 

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It looks like she's yawning... opening her mouth top teeth go one way bottom teeth go the other and then she closes her mouth and does it again...

Now that you mention that- when the bit is actually in her mouth, it looks more like she's pushing it with her tounge. It looks like the yawning, but she doesn't open her mouth as much and she stiffens her lips. How wuold I know the difference between yawning and something else? I'll try to take a video of it tomorrow.
Sounds like it is just her then, that's her "warm up". She probably did it at the track in anticipation or anxiety and it stuck
 

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Maybe since it's after you do the girth she's trying to suck in air to blow up so it's not so tight? Do you tighten it all the way immediately after you put the saddle on?
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The yawning often helps horses release tension, so I'd take it as a sign that she's relaxing and getting herself ready for what's to come.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
No- I put the girth on the lowest hole, then put on my helmet, then tighten another hole, put on the bridle, tighten another hole, walk to the arena, tighten another hole, and then get on.

So we're going with either a habit or relaxation- I can live with that :) That's what I always thought it was, but after hearing about yawning being a sign of ulcers, I got worried...
 
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