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Horse Tongues 101

The oft-overlooked tongue is “a very sensitive organ that experiences heat, pressure, pain and taste,” says veterinarian Dr. Chad Hewlett, the founder and owner of Energy Equine Veterinary Services in Airdrie, Alberta, which specializes in equine sports medicine, treating top-tier horses in both English and Western disciplines. “The equine tongue is made up of twelve different muscles,” he explains. “These muscles are mucosa-covered on the sides and underneath. They are slippery to allow debris to move without getting stuck as they lay against the teeth.” On the tongue’s dorsal (top) surface are protuberances called papillae. They provide traction to help move food across the mouth and eventually down the esophagus. The lingual frenulum is a membrane that attaches the tongue to the jaw on the lower side. The hyoid apparatus, bones at the back of the jaw, suspend both the tongue and the larynx from the skull. The front section…

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