TONGUE TIE DEBATE
Trainer Dalton Sirjue says a horse should not start after Tongue Tie becomes loose
BY RUDDY ALLEN
Observer staff reporter
Friday, September 07, 2018
The use of tongue tie in thoroughbred racing has proven to be beneficial to some racehorses as it appears to reduce stress, pain or both, and promote easier breathing during strenuous activities. This ensures that the horse does not flip its tongue above the bit when racing.
During the running of a race, horses can be seen with their tongues pulled out to the front and at the side of the mouth, with the purpose being to reduce breathing noises and help promote improved performances.
The tongue tie has become an issue among local trainers, and conditioner Dalton Sirjue, known in racing circles as 'Mr Tongue Tie', shed some discerning light on this useful bit of equipment.
Sirjue said that the tongue tie is one of the most important pieces of racing equipment.
“It is used to tie forward the tongue of the intended runner to enable the horse to get more oxygen passing the palate. A trainer uses the tongue tie because a horse has a dorsal displacement of the oesophagus.
“Now to cure that, you can either operate by removing parts of the tissue so that it flutters and does not lock off the air going into the lungs — like a distributor on a motor vehicle with a butterfly shaft or something like that.
“Most operations to remove this tissue, as far as I am concerned, are unsuccessful, so trainers use the tongue tie to tie forward the tongue, so as to get the tongue out of the way so that more air can pass into the lungs,” Sirjue told the Supreme Racing Guide.
Oftentimes before the start of a lot of races the tongue tie comes loose on horses and trainers often scratch their horses while others run theirs. According to Sirjue, he will not start his runner if the tongue tie comes loose at the starting gates.
“Now if a horse requires a tongue tie and loses it at the gates, I will not start that horse for it will not run to its true potential because that horse is going to shut down easily and probably stop. And, to me, that is unfair to the punters and the horse.
“That is my view. Even if it is a claiming race it matters not. As I earlier indicated, the tongue tie will stop the horse from performing up to its full potential, whether it is a claiming race or otherwise. I consider the public, who wager on the horses as the most important factor in this business of racing and they must be protected.
“I think to keep our customers in a betting frame of mind and not disgruntled is paramount, as many have become quite knowledgeable of how important the tongue tie equipment is and to lose it at the start is a setback.
“Whatever way it comes off, sometimes the horse works it off or it goes loose, whichever way it happens, we should strive to protect the betting public at all cost.
“Do not start the horse is my take on the matter. But calculations will differ in arriving at what is the best solution in a testing situation as this is,” said Sirjue.