Saturday, May 7, 2011

Cut Tongues

I was out feeding my geldings just before false dawn broke a couple of mornings ago when I heard the unmistakable sound of horses running. I thought a couple of our mares must have gotten loose, but that thought only lasted a second or two as a I turned and saw a couple of horses running up and down my north fence line.

Horses are herd animals and these loose horses smelled and called to my horses who called back, so these two loose horses were seeking safety. One of the horses, a Grey dapple colored horse was wearing a bit and bridle with roping reins looped over his neck and obvious sweat marks from a saddle blanket. The other horse, a Sorrel, didn’t have a halter or bridle,…..or signs of being ridden recently.

While I have gathered many loose horses over the last couple of years, having one with a bit and bridle and another one with nothing was odd. Naked horses, that is without any saddles or tack, are the norm as fences fail and gates are sometimes left open. While I disagree with the practice, I have often seen horses stalled, put up or turned out wearing a halter,....however, I cannot fathom anyone putting up a horse still with a bit in it’s mouth. First thing I thought then was that the owners must have never seen a cut tongue before.

Cut tongues can easily occur when a bitted horse, even with a snaffle bit, is tied using the reins. Another all too common situation is a loose horse stepping on their reins. I have even seen riders being too heavy handed resulting in cut tongues, especially in speed events where fast turns and faster stops are needed.

But there is absolutely no reason to put a horse up with a bit still in his mouth with reins attached. I know some people who use a training bridle and a rubber snaffle bit on colts to get them used to carry a bit in their mouth, but they do so without reins. And they don't leave them in situations where they can catch the O or D ring of the snaffle on things.

I think severly cut tongues will normally preclude using a bit on that horse again. Cut tongues cannot be sewed up. The horse has to heal naturally. The owner can soak hay to make eating easier and less painful, as well as used anti-septic to clean the mouth out a couple times a day after feeding. The tongue will actually heal pretty fast but will never be the same tongue as before the injury. The picture above is a cut tongue from sevral years ago that healed up nicely, however a groove is still visable.

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