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Decoding the Bridling Yawn
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Decoding the Bridling Yawn

Horse behavior is only more apparent and more understood by those who spend a lot of time with horses. But for those who are aware of a particular behavior, specifically yawning, there's some speculation as to the connection between that and putting on a horse's bridle. There are a number of explanations provided by various resources and experts alike, but they range from what's considered normal to the abnormal.

There's much we have to learn from the natural world. As much as we share lots of similarities with other species, there are certain characteristics which may appear similar but actually convey a whole different meaning or serve a different purpose. One of those characteristics is yawning, and much research is still needed to break down the anatomy of a yawn for animals to determine if it has a similar function or reason with the yawn of humans.

For us, yawning is a reflex we have when we feel physically tired, sleepy or bored. It can even be triggered by social factors. For example, it's been noted that when someone or some individuals in a group yawns, it sets off a chain reaction and causes others to yawn as well. This behavior is attributed to some form of survival instinct we may have inherited from our ancestors, but there's much debate on that.

Either way, yawning has a physiologic function. Studies indicate that this is a way by which our brains cool down. Hypothetically, yawning is also caused by various chemicals in our body like dopamine and serotonin. On a more negative note, yawning can also be caused by disorders like brain stem ischemic stroke and multiple sclerosis.

Of course, there's a lot that still needs to be verified in order to understand yawning in humans, and even more so in animals like horses. While for the most part yawning is a natural and harmless enough reflex, some researches have indicated that it could also point to something more serious.

Yawning in Horses

According to horse experts and enthusiasts, horses yawn for a number of reasons. Some of these are no cause for alarm, while some are potentially worrisome.

  • Just like human beings, horses yawn when they are feeling tired, drowsy, stressed or hungry. Well, we don't necessarily yawn when we're hungry or stressed, but more so when we feel physically exhausted. For horses, stress could be induced by pain or discomfort, apprehension due to some external stimulus, or if they encounter some sort of mental challenge like being confronted with an obstacle.
  • Whether a horse's yawn serves the same physiologic function with that of a human being's has yet to be ascertained. Whatever the cause, it's generally accepted that yawning is not necessarily something to worry too much about.
  • Another theory why horses yawn is it is their way of releasing stress. If they undergo a physically trying activity or even after being massaged, there is a tendency for them to yawn more.
  • Excessive yawning in horses could be an indicator that there's something wrong with them health wise. It was observed by some individuals that yawning is more frequent when horses experience disorders like colic pain or ulcers.
  • It's also believed that horses also yawn more when they're happy or pleasantly aroused. It would appear that the reflex is not only caused by negative stimuli but positive factors as well, which could only add to the confusion somewhat. The best thing to do is to just simply take note of what a horse is doing to ensure that all is well.

The Connection Between Bridling and Yawning

Bridling could be one cause of stress and discomfort for a horse. Putting something like a bridle on the head doesn't look too comfortable, regardless of what animal you are. It is possible that there is a correlation between bridling and yawning in horses.

But while that's an acceptable hypothesis, it's not quite that simple to know for sure. After all, we can only rely on the cues we can observe. It's not like horses can complain or anything.

There is one point that can be noted though. Most likely, yawning is not something that a horse may do intentionally to avoid being bridled as it is a reflex. Besides, if horses want to avoid being bridled, they can simply move away or something.

It is also possible that a horse may just be doing a little bit of stretching after a bridle is removed. Whatever the case may be, the only thing that can be done really is to just observe further to ensure a horse's well-being.

All things considered, yawning isn't necessarily a cause for alarm. But if it's observed that it's done excessively or if there's anything noticeably out of the ordinary, then it's always better to be safe and just go directly to a vet.

Disclaimer: Of Horse! and sponsors do not endorse nor validate the accuracy of a blog post. Each article is the opinion of the blogger.

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