Horses Need Dentists Too!
I grew up around horses. I don’t come close to knowing everything there is to know about them, but I have always felt adequately informed….until about two weeks ago. For some time I’ve been thinking about getting an equine dentist out here to check out all of our boys. I’m embarrassed to say that it’s been two years since we’ve seen an equine dentist and even then it was only a couple of our horses. There were a few “signs” that made me think we needed one (the way Doc tilts his head when he eats grain and experiences bit pressure, age on some of our horses, lack of dental care, etc.). Time just seems to pass so quickly and we are always busy out here on the ranch. In other words, I didn’t get it done as soon as I’d hoped to. Well, I finally found a guy who came highly recommended from several friends. He and his wife came out and spent the day at our place. Boy, did I get an education!
This equine dentist (who prefers to remain nameless, but if you want to know who he is just email me or give me a call and I’ll be glad to refer you) went above and beyond to ensure that we were informed and involved in the entire process from start to finish. This in itself was something new to me. Besides being an overall genuine guy, I found out that our equine dentist went through extensive schooling in Texas for several years and that he has worked on over 5,000 horses so far. He takes his trade very seriously and he is very professional. I felt confident that I had chosen the right man to trust our horses with and the fact that his wife works with him throughout the entire process is an added bonus. We were encouraged to stick around during the entire procedure, which for 11 horses was about 11 hours straight through. We got to feel inside each of our horse’s mouths before and after. I can’t even tell you how much each mouth was transformed! The fact that we were included in the entire journey of correcting tooth development errors was an epiphany to me and it made all the difference in my understanding of the importance of equine dentistry.
First up was my best horse, Doc. If you know me at all you know how much Doc means to me….enough said.
I’ve been having some issues with him in the sorting pen and watching him eat made me worry for him. Well, after I felt in his mouth I knew why. His teeth were horrible….and his inner cheeks were all rubbed raw! I felt like the worst horse owner in history. I even got teary-eyed over it. We don’t baby our horses per se…..we let them be horses, but how I didn’t catch this earlier really caused me some distress. I decided right then and there that I was going to sit up and pay attention to the smaller details of our horses from then on. I will definitely never let our horses be in that position again.
The equine dentist was telling me how there are certain signs a horse can give you on the outside of his body about his dental health. One of those signs was big on Doc. His temporalis muscle (located in his forehead) was completely out of whack. It was longer and puffier on one side.
Once we got inside his mouth it was evident what was going on. One side of his mouth was overcompensating for the other because his teeth were being ground off unevenly (causing the insides of his cheeks to be rubbed raw). When I first felt in his mouth it almost felt like I was feeling a tiger’s teeth….sharp and jagged.