Last week I was out at a local barn and a towering draft cross gelding opened his mouth, releasing an equally imposing waterfall of lukewarm slobber into the floor of the arena. This might be what you might be seeing or hearing in your barns right now—puddles of slobber and the sounds of watery chews from all corners of the stable, possibly causing your stomach to do somersaults if you’re the queasy type.

'Tis the season for horse slobbers in many parts of the country.

Photo: Thinkstock/

My first thought when I saw the arena mud puddle forming was, “Where was this horse’s dramatic drool a few months ago?” We we were trying to get a “pretty” cover photo of a drooling horse for our current issue at that time. But I know from years of being around horses that one of the more common causes of hypersalivation--slaframine toxicity, or “slobbers,” as it’s often called--is seasonal and dependent on the horse ingesting a fungus that grows on red clover. In essence, you can lead a horse to clover but you can’t make him slobber (until maybe July).

Ah, horse drool (Has anyone named a beer that yet?). A teensy touch of it while riding can reveal that your horse or pony is supple and working on the bit (He looks like he’s sipped milk? Great!). But did you know a whole lot of saliva, slobber, drool, or whatever you happen to call it in your neck of the woods, can mean a variety of things beyond clover poisoning?

Belle, our cover model, looked lovely even as she drooled. This month you can get a digital copy of this issue immediately when you buy a single print copy.

Photo: Sarah Church/

Dr. Stacey Oke unpacked this topic in-depth in the July issue in a way that I found very interesting. She talks about 18 different causes for hypersalivation. Some of them, though rare, are deadly. Many of them are fairly harmless. But she reminds owners that when in doubt, ask their veterinarians about cases of excessive slobber, because the reasons can sometimes be surprising. I encourage you to read this article, available in the July issue of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. You’ll not only get the print issue in the mail but also an immediate digital download of the issue you can read today.

So how did we make the cover model drool? The photographer accomplished this with a turkey baster, a bucket of water, a clever handler, and a very patient horse. Thank you to Belle, a sweet gaited rescue mare, for slobbering on command.

Have you ever dealt with an unusual case of slobber before?