Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Why do horses yawn?

I was reading an article on thehorse.com recently about why horses yawn. There are various reasons: sometimes a yawn indicates abdominal pain; some horses will yawn to stretch their jaw muscles; and some horses will yawn "close to meal times as if they are anxiously anticipating their hay or grain."

Guess what time it is.



Look out...here comes another one.




And another one...



'Fess up. Are you yawning now, too?

The equine yawn is not to be confused with the equine laugh, technically known as the flehmen posture. Like the yawn, there are various reasons for this response: an equine might flehmen when suffering from colic – no laughing matter – or when getting a whiff of something new or different. After an equine draws in the odor, he curls his lip up to temporarily close the nasal passages and hold the particles inside, then raises his head to help the molecules linger in his vomeronasal organ. That's just a fancy way of saying "get the camera ready 'cause this is gonna get interesting."

Exhibit A: George takes a long whiff of Deets.




Exhibit B: Lyle at his first wine tasting, on the occasion of his first birthday.

This concludes today's lesson on when to take goofy pictures.

22 comments:

  1. Interesting explanations and some good laughs over your pictures ... good way to start my day!

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  2. You know, I always laugh at your commentary, but I always learn from your photos. Actually, today I learned from your commentary, as well. Now, how will I manage to work the phrase, "the flehmen posture," into a conversation?

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  3. Those are great! I love to watch the facial expressions! They sure do have horsenalities!

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  4. I have to say George has the cutest face when he yawns...

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  5. I love horse and burro lips.

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  6. My haflinger pony yawns several times after her "dinner", which consists of two old apples and a teaspoon of sweetfeed. We have a great picture of her doing it on my blog, called the Laffin Haffy. Love your blog, we visit almost every day!

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  7. Carson, I LOVE your blog..... It sure puts me in a good mood to start the day on....Love me some George....

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  8. Those are so cute. My mare Indigo is always yawning, always crossing her jaw and always "laughing" as you say though on command it is "smile" for me. I got about a hundred pictures of her "smiling" on my blog. That horse never seems to keep her mouth shut.

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  9. Thanks for helping to start my day with a smile.

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  10. Equine expressions are amazing - lovely pictures!

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  11. You made me laugh out loud. Great pictures! Ellsworth did the flehmen posture constantly when he first got here. I love your blog - it is both educational and entertaining! I just love these photos.

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  12. Ohmygosh, hilarious. So my question is, do they ever just yawn because they're sleepy and need a bit more oxygen to the brain?
    That flehmen response cracks me up. Goats do it, too. :-)

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  13. Great pics! Thank you for starting the day off with smiles.

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  14. Danni, ixnay on the more oxygen theory. The experts seem to agree that equines do not appear to be inhaling when they yawn.

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  15. They are all so cute! Interesting post, too. Loved it.

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  16. Beamer yawns frequently, probably for every reason in the book. Great way to get pictures, isn't it.

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  17. my goat boys do the top-lip-up thing when trying to get a good whiff of a goat girl.

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  18. I think they do it for attention. My gelding used to smile for cookies, lifting his lip so high I thought it was going to flip backwards!

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  19. Cats do flehmens too, I believe.... Though it's not quite so "lippy."

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  20. I think they've just been telling jokes to each other! Listen a little closer next time:)

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  21. My Arial smiles everytime I give her a peppermint. Love to take pictures of her doing that!

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  22. Wonderful....here I can read stuff and git an eju-ca-shun besides. Very kewl!

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