Tongue suspension profile
Rubesca was given to me for free, an eighteen-year-old fine chestnut born of many bad habits, one of
which was tongue hanging. That big muscle came out of her left mouth almost nonstop: she looked
Who would have thought she would become the best horse I ever owned, having won many one-day
events, events and competitions?
About a year later, in our relationship, she chose the tongue hanging habit, which made me wonder why
horses hang tongues and is my way of “curing” Rubesca common?
Causes of tongue hanging
In her article “Helping the Tongue Resistant,” Jessica Jahiel, Ph.D., clinician and lecturer, says that
“stroking the tongue is usually a reaction to pain.”
The causes of oral pain are different. Brenda Imus from Brenda Imus Gaited Horse Services offers teeth
exploration and buoyancy because cutting a horse’s tongue makes it possible to cut teeth. The animal
hangs it to prevent pain.
Both experts emphasize that the horse’s tongue is very thick. There is little or no salivation and salivation
due to contraception. He must be able to swallow those saliva comfortably. If the nozzle is too large, held
too tight, or the nose band is too close to the mouth, it will need to extend the tongue to swallow.
The horse’s mouth is different, but Dr. Jahiel recommends finding the “thinnest, smoothest bite that will
be most comfortable for your horse.”
My own experience supports this. Previously, I replaced Rubesca’s thick knit snack with a thinner,
smoother Happy Mouth. I used this piece of soft rubber, even if it was an extremely strong SUV. Because
it didn’t hurt her, she listened, and I think it contributed to her finally forgetting to pat her tongue.
I ride with her son in a fairly thin French connection, which Dr. Jahiel recommends horses with thick
tongues and low palates. He enjoys it and does not hang his tongue.
Hands of a motorcyclist
We, motorcyclists, need to be careful with our hands after checking our teeth and inserting the correct
nozzle. Instructional judges treat tongue sticking as “resistance” because it is so often a reaction to the
It is important not to use the horse for oral balance. It helps to imagine how we would feel if someone
rested on a shaft inserted into our own mouth.
Dr. Jahiel emphasizes the importance of maintaining even contact with both buttons: sometimes stroking
the tongue is a reaction to excessive pressure on one side of the mouth.
Brenda Imus covers stress and boredom as a cause of tongue-tied horses and offers to diversify their work
where they can stretch and move. To that, I would add the horse, turning as much of his friendly
companions as possible, and reducing his idle time at the kiosk.
Mrs. Imus also says that the habit can be “so ingrained that even after removing all stressors (the horse)
will need to physically hold his tongue until he gets used to it.”
I cannot agree with this.
Don’t be obsessed
I covered Rubesca’s TLC daily and drove to her as if she had no curse words. Her workload was varied,
with several trails per week.
I was not ashamed of her tongue hanging (or thinking, biting her head, etc.) and I was trying to ride as
sensitively as possible, keeping in constant contact and even pressing on the kidneys. I took it slowly.
Over time, I noticed that her tongue held in her mouth for a long time. As Dr. Jahiel says, this problem
does not go away overnight. But it has disappeared. I remove anything that can cause my mare pain,
stress or boredom and stop worrying about my tongue.
I talked to trainers who tried different ways to stop horses from hanging their tongue. After studying
possible physical problems, they found artificial attempts to restrain the horse’s tongue exacerbated the
These men and women use the same simple method I stuck with: keep the horse happy, disregard his
habit and he will pass.
Jessica Jahiel, Ph.D. Help with tongue resistance
Brenda Imus, My horse hangs his tongue out of his mouth
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