Saturday, July 7, 2007

I'll Take Equine Dentistry for $200, Alex

Miss has been out of sorts for the past couple of weeks. One lesson, she was so dead I couldn't keep her head off the ground and literally rode her for five minutes before we gave up, thinking she was just having a bit of an off day. The next lesson we couldn't get her to stop and she kept putting her tongue over the bit. We started to notice that she was worse towards the right, picking up the wrong lead at the canter (something she never does), and throwing her head around. I kept telling my trainer I thought there must be something wrong in her mouth but she didn't really take me seriously.

She should have. After about a 10 second examination the vet said, "Her wolf teeth needed to come out." Ummmm, OK. What the hell are wolf teeth? Thanks to this site and a few others, I learned all about them.

For you non-horsey types: At the front of a horse's mouth are the incisors. At the back of the horse's mouth are the premolars and the molars. In between the incisors and the premolars is a relatively tooth-free space called the interdental space; this is where the bit sets. In the interdental space, there might be certain additional teeth call wolf teeth. These are very small teeth located in front of the second premolar and do not have long roots that set them firmly in the jaw bone.

Though not all wolf teeth are troublesome, veterinarians routinely remove them to prevent pain or interference from a bit. Normally, contact with the opposing tooth keeps biting surfaces equal. When cheek teeth are out of alignment, hooks can form. Hooks on the upper cheek teeth can interfere with bitting. Hooks on the lower cheek teeth can force the horse to chew up and down; causing stress on the jaw muscle. Your equine veterinarian can remove these small hooks to stop unnecessary pain.

Miss also had a few of these little hooks, so she must have been very uncomfortable. Poor thing. He gave her a good healthy dose of tranquilizer, then lidocaine in her gums, but she was very good (thankfully) and they were able to do it all at the farm so we didn't have to trailer her to the clinic.

Good thing this happened, because I hadn't spent enough money on vet bills lately. Seriously, I'm glad we took care of this right away, so we can get back to having happy riding experiences for both of us.

Here's a recent pic of Daddy and Miss, aren't they both just so darned cute?


  1. They are both cute! I'm glad you got it all taken care of - poor thing! You guys should be back to having a great time together! -Kym

  2. Very good that you got it all corrected. Poor little Missy. Watching a horse get his teeth floated is sight, huh?

  3. Molly, I wouldn't know, once they put her head in that crutch-thingie I had to turn away, I'm such a wimp about watching the vet do anything!

  4. Donna, glad you figured it out! Good for you!! And what's with your trainer not thinking teeth?? That's something I was always taught to consider immediately with those types of issues.

    Just know when you first ride her after this, she might still do the same thing because she is expecting it to hurt. Even though it has been fixed, the horse has no way of know that. She won't know until she has the experience of it not hurting when she's ridden.

    So if she does drop her head to get away from it, or try to run through it, or even another new trick, reassure her that she's ok and work her through it so she can replace her negative experience from before with a new positive one now.

    It could take her a couple of rides or so to trust that it won't hurt anymore and to go back to her old self.

    Horses are so smart and they never forget that kind of thing. Lots of people don't take that into consideration and then think their horse is just being naughty.

    Great post!

  5. The things I learn reading your blog! Good thing that you realized that there was something bothering your little Miss.
    I'm off to the dentist today...hope he doesn't find any wolf teeth on me!

  6. I have to get Maddys teeth floated soon. I am dreading the experience already. Horse dentistry is not a pretty thing to hear or watch!

  7. Good to hear that you were able to figure it out fairly quickly. I had to help once when my ex-horse (Keihe - pronounced Ky) had to get his teeth floated. Once the vet gave him the anaesthetic I had to hold up Keihe's head and grab his tongue and hold it out of the way - big head, big tongue!

  8. I'm so glad you were able to figure out what was wrong fairly easily.

  9. wolf teeth? who knew...?

    hey, I have a new blog:

    hope you are well!