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?