Why Does My Horse Play With His Tongue?

What could be the cause behind this young horse’s strange tongue lollying at feeding time? Dr. Sue McDonnell answers.
Please login

No account yet? Register


Why Does My Horse Play With His Tongue
One theory is that oral behaviors increase salivation and help buffer stomach acid.

Q.My 4-year-old gelding plays with his tongue every night in his stall at feeding time when he’s waiting on his hay (see video below or at bit.ly/2tMXPrc). Why would a horse do this? Is it because new teeth are growing in, or is he just bored?

—Jennifer, via email

A.Great video clip! This behavior goes by a few names, but lollying is probably the most common. I couldn’t appreciate if there was any sucking, as well. There are actually many variations of tongue and lip movements in various combinations and specific forms. All are pretty peculiar and very interesting. As far as I know, no one knows for sure why some horses do it

Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.

TheHorse.com is home to thousands of free articles about horse health care. In order to access some of our exclusive free content, you must be signed into TheHorse.com.

Start your free account today!

Already have an account?
and continue reading.


Written by:

Sue M. McDonnell, PhD, is a certified applied animal behaviorist and the founding head of the equine behavior program at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. She is also the author of numerous books and articles about horse behavior and management.

Related Articles

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with

FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com

Sponsored Content

Weekly Poll

sponsored by:

Which is your favorite Olympic equestrian event?
114 votes · 114 answers

Readers’ Most Popular

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Register for a FREE account here.

Need to update your account?

You need to be logged in to fill out this form

Create a free account with TheHorse.com!