Why are some horses given a tongue tie during races?

A tongue tie is part of the equipment horses can wear during races

Horse racing tongue tie

There is plenty of jargon associated with horse racing and for newcomers to the sport many of the most confusing aspects focus on what the horse wears during a race. It can look weird when seeing a racehorse clad in a hood, blinkers or shadow roll as they parade around the ring preparing to race.

One of these pieces of horse racing equipment is the tongue tie, which is actually something you’re unlikely to notice when watching horse racing online or on TV.

But even though you may not see the tongue tie in action, you will notice it on the race card.

So, Paddy Power is here to explain exactly what a tongue tie is and what it does, in our latest Demystifying Racing guide!

What is a tongue tie?

A tongue tie is a piece of material that fits between the horse’s tongue and lower jaw. The idea is to keep the tongue in a fixed and comfortable position when the horse is racing, so that it doesn’t swallow its tongue. A horse that swallows its tongue naturally has its air passage disturbed and may struggle to breathe. It certainly won’t be able to race at its full capacity, and in some cases it can be serious.

Horses can also accidentally move their tongue over the bit, which is the piece of metal that runs across the horse’s teeth in order to secure the bridle in place. Usually the bridle helps the tongue sit into place at the base of the lower jaw, but occasionally it can be disturbed.

You can easily spot if a horse is wearing a tongue tie by checking out the horse racing betting race card. A ’t’ will be placed next to the horse’s weight if a tongue tie is being worn. If this is the first time the horse is wearing a tongue tie then ‘t1’ is used instead.

Horse racing tongue tie

A tongue tie is fitted to a horse before a race (GETTY)

Is a tongue tie bad for horse racing betting?

No. In fact, a tongue tie is likely to be better for the horse than not. After all, if there is a concern that the horse will swallow its tongue then wearing a tongue tie is the perfect solution to ensuring it can run at its potential.

So when you see a ‘t’ or a ‘t1’ on the race card then don’t automatically assume the horse won’t win. The racing betting odds won’t change either. Equipment is there to help the horse, not disadvantage it.


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