Why Does My Horse Yawn So Much?

Is your horse constantly yawning when you’re nearby? If so, it could be telling you something important. Find out more in this blog!

Sep 7, 2023By Nikita Hillier
why does my horse yawn so much

Has your horse been yawning more than usual when you’re around them? If so, don’t worry; it may not be cause for alarm. Yawning is a behavior that is easy to recognize, but sometimes hard to understand.

In fact, it has left many scientists baffled time and time again. In humans, yawning can be a sign of stress or exhaustion, but most of the time, it is something entirely different in horses. Therefore, it is wise to understand the potential causes of excessive yawning.

What Does It Mean When My Horse Yawns?

horse yawning close up
Image Credit: Alexis_Fotos on Pixabay

When your horse is yawning, you need to look at the situation your horse is in and what the context is. Many horse owners immediately think that yawning is a sign of boredom, laziness, stress, or sleepiness. However, most of the time, they’re just feeling content and calm with your attention and fussing.

Though, sometimes your horse may have a more sinister reason for continuous yawning. If you take note of what is happening before and after your horse yawns, more often than not, you will be able to identify the cause. If you’re ever worried, calling a vet is a great idea.

As I always say, better safe than sorry!

Yawning to Release Tension

foal yawning pasture
Image Credit: Rihaij on Pixabay

Did you know that many horses actually yawn to release tension? In fact, it is one of the most common reasons that your horse may be yawning. Horses often stretch and yawn when they are receiving your attention and spending time with you.

They will even do it during a visit from a bodyworker to exhibit relaxation and tension release. Some other signs of relaxation and tension release can include stretching, chewing, licking, sighing, and even passing gas!

Yawning to Release Stress

white horse yawning nature
Image Credit: Rihaij on Pixabay

Like the above, horses may yawn to lower their stress levels. If you find that your horse is always yawning before, during, or after riding or training, it could be a sign that they are having trouble with their stress levels. Horses often yawn when they are overstimulated or placed in a stressful environment.

While some stress is unavoidable for the most part, constant stress is not at all good for horses. If you find that your horse is stressed, it’s a good idea to remove any stressors from their environment. Some things, such as new places, new paddock mates, or extreme training programs, can cause excess stress for your equine companion.

Pay attention to when your horse is yawning to determine what could be causing stress to them. After all, a calm equine is a happy equine.

Yawning as a Social Behavior

three horses herd pasture
Image Credit: WolfBlur on Pixabay

There have been countless equine behavioral studies to determine why horses may yawn. Many have actually determined that the dominant horses in the herd may yawn as a social cue. In studies where horses were monitored for a longer period, it was found that stallions often yawned far more than other herd members did.

This determination was especially true when other stallions were nearby.

Yawning to Relieve Pain

young bay horse yawning
Image Credit: Rihaij on Pixabay

Some horses may yawn when they’re trying to relieve pain. Most of the time, they will yawn when they are experiencing gastrointestinal distress. Ulcers in horses are extremely common and may cause your horse to yawn in order to find relief.

If your horse has only just started yawning, it could be a sign that they are experiencing gastrointestinal distress. If you think this may be the problem, make sure you speak to your vet about treating it as soon as possible.

Yawning to Relieve Discomfort

shire horse yawning
Image Credit: Alexis_Fotos on Pixabay

Gastrointestinal distress is not the only discomfort your horse can experience. There are many other types of pain that your horse could be dealing with. This includes oral pain, colic pain, ear pain, or even back pain.

For most horses, yawning is an excellent way to stretch the sore area out and relieve some of the discomfort. That is why it is so important to observe your horses’ yawning patterns and speak to your vet if you think an issue may be present.

Make Sure You Listen to Your Horse

horse human sunset
Image Credit: RebeccasPictures on Pixabay

Horses don’t have the chance to tell us why they’re doing things such as yawning. That is why we must do our best to know the signs, listen, and understand what our equine companions may be dealing with. Most of the time, yawning is nothing to worry about and is often a positive response to your attention.

You just need to know what to look for. For example, if your horse is yawning every time you put the saddle on, it could be asking for your help. If this is the case, there’s no harm in speaking to a professional such as a vet or bodyworker.

Next time your horse is yawning, consider what they may be trying to tell you.

If you’d like to learn more, read our informative blog about 5 of the Most Popular Horse Breeds!

Nikita Hillier
By Nikita Hillier

Nikita is a huge animal lover who has grown up on a farm with many different animals, from dogs and cats to horses and cows! She has a lot of experience in the equine industry and is even in the process of studying for an internationally accredited Equine Sports Massage Certificate! In her spare time, she enjoys writing and spending time with her beloved animals!