Chew On This: Horses Make Eating Motions For A Variety Of Reasons - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Chew On This: Horses Make Eating Motions For A Variety Of Reasons

Horse owners and caretakers are taught that horses may make licking and chewing motions for a variety of reasons, like processing new information or relaxation. Horse Nation attempted to dispel some of the common misconceptions about why horses make licking and chewing motions when they're not eating.

One misconception is that horses lick and chew when they're processing what they're being taught. Horse Nation explained that belief can be either true or false. 

Trainers in every discipline teach their clients that a horse licks and chews when he's learning, and at times this is true, but in others the horse may just be changing his perspective on how the energy around him is changing – from amped up to quiet, for example. A horse may also make the motion when his fight or flight response is alleviated – he licks and chews in relief. 

A horse may also make licking and chewing motions when he has gotten away with something – like dominating his owner. Horses lick and chew as a stress response to training that uses older techniques, Good Horse explained; a horse that licks and chews after training may be expressing that the training techniques are stressful.

Other research reported that the licking and chewing motions are an automatic behavior process to encourage saliva production after a tense situation dissipates. Other research noted that horses lick and chew when they are relaxed, but it was not determined whether horses made the motions because they were relaxed already or in an effort to relax. 

The bottom line: Horses lick and chew for a variety of reasons, so the motion must be taken in context with what the horse is doing and its environment. 

Read more at Horse Nation

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