Many people know empty chewing as a sign of submission. This can often be observed when foals or young horses meet horses of higher rank and want to show them that they submit to them. With this type of empty chewing, the horses move their lower and upper jaw vertically away from each other and towards each other.
In addition to vertical empty chewing, there is also horizontal empty chewing, in which the lower jaw grinds against the upper jaw as when chewing food properly, but without the horse eating or having something in its mouth. Horizontal empty chewing is a frequently observed symptom that indicates pain in the gastrointestinal tract, especially stomach ulcers in horses. If the horse suffers from particularly severe pain, it occasionally grinds its teeth, which cannot be overheard.
It is assumed that horses try to relieve stress by chewing empty and gnashing their teeth. And horses suffering from peptic ulcers are often under stress. On the one hand usually as a trigger or co-trigger for stomach ulcers and on the other hand due to the pain caused. If it can be observed that the horse chews more without having anything between its teeth, this is not because the horse is hungry or has simply become accustomed to a bad habit for no reason, but usually because it suffers from stress and stomach problems.
What if my horse chews empty all the time?
So if you observe that your horse often chews empty (horizontally), this is a relatively clear sign that it has stress and stomach pain. Do you notice any other symptoms, such as increased yawning, a lack of appetite or a drop in performance? ... then you should not hesitate to consult your vet. With the help of a gastroscopy, he can reliably diagnose a stomach ulcer.
What are the consequences of chewing empty?
Teeth grind off much too quickly and irregularly and become shorter and shorter as a result of chewing empty and grinding teeth. This leads to pain in the jaw joint pain, permanent strain and, ultimately, muscle tension.