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Why Do Dressage Horses Foam at the Mouth?



Why Do Dressage Horses Foam at the Mouth

If you’ve ever watched a dressage competition, you’ve probably noticed that some horses seem to be constantly foaming at the mouth. While this may seem strange to those who aren’t familiar with the sport, it’s actually a sign of a healthy and well-trained horse.

In this post, we’ll explain why dressage horses foam at the mouth and what it means for their performance.

Foaming vs. Drooling

First of all, it’s important to understand that foaming at the mouth is not the same as drooling. Horses naturally produce saliva as they chew their food, but foaming at the mouth usually occurs when a horse is working hard and using a lot of energy. When a dressage horse is performing complex movements like piaffe or passage, they are using their bodies in a way that requires a lot of effort and concentration. This hard work causes the horse to breathe more heavily, which in turn causes the production of more saliva. The excess saliva mixes with air to create foam, which then collects at the corners of the horse’s mouth.

Another reason that dressage horses foam at the mouth is that they are usually ridden with a bit in their mouth. The bit is a piece of metal or plastic that is placed in the horse’s mouth and is used to communicate with the rider. When the rider applies pressure to the reins, the bit applies pressure to the horse’s mouth, causing them to respond by slowing down or turning. The bit also encourages the horse to salivate, which can make the horse more comfortable during long periods of riding and also help to protect their teeth.

Foaming at the mouth can be a sign of a well-trained horse because it shows that the horse is relaxed and comfortable with the bit. A horse that is tense or uncomfortable may clamp their mouth shut or resist the bit, which can cause them to produce less saliva. A relaxed horse that is foaming at the mouth indicates that they are confident and happy to work with their rider.

It’s also worth noting that dressage horses are often trained to produce more foam at the mouth by their riders. Some riders may use a technique called “bubbling” to encourage the horse to produce more foam. This involves gently moving the bit in the horse’s mouth to create more contact between the horse’s tongue and the bit, which can cause the horse to produce more saliva and therefore more foam. While this technique is not necessary for a well-trained horse, it can be used to enhance the horse’s performance.


Dressage horses foam at the mouth because of a combination of hard work, the use of a bit, and a relaxed and comfortable attitude towards training. Foaming at the mouth is a sign of a healthy and well-trained horse, and should not be a cause for concern for spectators or riders.

By understanding why horses foam at the mouth, dressage riders and enthusiasts can appreciate this aspect of the sport as a sign of the horse’s skill and athleticism.

I am Tommy, an avid equestrian who is passionate about the lifestyle. Writing for an equestrian blog has been a lifelong dream of mine, as I have been around horses my whole life. My mission is to share all the knowledge and experiences I have gathered throughout the years in order to help others reach their goals in this amazing sport. My dedication and enthusiasm towards horses and all things related to them never cease to amaze me!

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