Horses usually flehm when they have noticed a smell that they want to identify more closely. When flehming, the horse stretches its head forward and pulls up its upper lip. The horse's nostrils are closed and the smell is directed into the vomeronasal organ, an additional olfactory organ with which the horses can filter out and identify sexual attractants in particular.
But it is not always said that a horse has noticed a special smell when it is begging. Fleaming can also be a sign of discomfort and pain, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. Many horses suffering from stomach ulcers or colic show this symptom.
How can I tell if my horse is flehming because of a certain smell or if he is begging because he is in pain because of an ulcer and is not feeling well?
Many horse owners know their horses well and know whether their horses react to unfamiliar smells with flehming or not. Since horses can filter out sexual attractants better by flehming, it can be observed that stallions in particular often flehm. In this way, they determine whether or not a mare is rusty. However, if the horse often flehms conspicuously, which is otherwise rather untypical for your horse, the alarm bells should ring, because this is usually a sign that your horse is in pain.
I'm not sure if my horse is flehming for a smell or an ulcer. What gives me information?
When your horse is flehming for a stomach ulcer, there are usually other signs of an ulcer. These include, for example, increased yawning, empty chewing, dull coat or the defensive behaviour when saddling and strapping. Stomach patients are remarkably often and in very different situations - for example, when standing in the box or on the pasture, while cleaning, but also when riding can this symptom be observed.