Have you ever seen a young foal, maybe just after weaning, when it meets another horse it doesn’t know? Did you notice that they often do something strange with their mouths?
I call this ‘baby talk’ and if you watch a lot of horses you can figure out what they are saying. Very young foals use this mouth movement to announce to the world, “I’m a baby….don’t hurt me!” It is a submissive move.
In this video the little horse, the weanling, is very aware that his big half-brother enjoys pushing him around. The baby is reminding him that he is no threat.
Below is a short video showing two young horses turned out with my older dominate horse, Popcorn. Watch how they open their mouths, drawing the corners of their mouths open, and making a ‘chomping’ type movement to say they are babies….don’t hurt me.
The interesting part of this video is that the yearling, Desmond (the bigger colt) has been ‘lying’ to Popcorn. What that means is that Desmond has said to Popcorn, “I’m a baby…don’t hurt me!”…and then when Popcorn let his guard down…Desmond attacked! So Desmond was lying.
In this video you will see both young horses using ‘baby talk’…although Popcorn tells Desmond that he doesn’t appreciate being lied to. Popcorns ‘corrections’ will lead to Desmond no longer exhibit ‘baby talk’ as Desmond isn’t really a baby any more and shouldn’t be claiming it.
This mouth movement is common in young horses and for the most part completely disappears in older horses although some do hang onto it.