This is a list of commonly asked questions. Please email me if you would like any additional information.
Does my horse need a dentist? YES!
Horses' teeth are designed to eat long, wild grasses, not the processed feeds and hay we feed today. The closer your horse's diet is to a natural state, the better their teeth will wear. Your horse's teeth are continually 'erupting'. Horses in the wild average an age of about 7-10 years old, they often die as a result of the teeth causing cuts and infection to the cheeks and tongue. Generally, domestic horses ALL require dental attention. The main concern is sharpness on the outside edges of the upper teeth causing lacerated cheeks and inside edges of the lower teeth cutting the tongue. The dentist will file off these sharp points, thus relieving the pain and discomfort associatd with these concerns. It is very rare that I see a horse who has had no dental attention in 12 months NOT to have lacerated cheeks or tongue.
This is obviously very painful for the horse and can easily result in unwanted behaviour and training difficulties.
If you have a new horse, ensure you have it checked before you start your riding or training.
Your horses 'way of going' can be severely effected by their teeth. Sharp or unevely worn teeth will inhibit correct flexion and turning. Contact and connectivity will be effected and in turn quite difficult for a horse with sharp teeth. Not only is unwanted behaviour a problem, but maximum potential may not be reached or realised in a horse with a problematic mouth.
How do I know when my horse needs their teeth seen to?
Often there are no outward symptoms. Over 80% of horses I see show absolutely no signs of irritation, however, they often have cuts and lacerations caused by sharp teeth. The most common symptoms are head shaking while being ridden, difficulty bitting, dropping feed or chewing hay or feed more slowly.
How often should my horse be seen to?
This depends on your horse's age:
Under 5 years - horses should be seen every 6 months. This is to ensure all teeth are erupting normally and there are no retained caps (baby teeth).
Over 5yo I recommend treatments every 9 to 12 months. Stabled horses may need to be seen more regularly than paddocked horses.
How many teeth does a horse have?
The normal horse has between 36 and 42 teeth.
Between 0 and 4 canine or bridle teeth
Between 0 and 2 wolf teeth
FEEDING THE OLDER HORSE
As our equine companions age, their dietary requirements change dramatically.
I would avise you speak with an Equine Nutritionist for specific advice, but I will outline some important points.
The most concerning thing I see in the older horses is tooth wear. Instead of the teeth being rough on the chewing surface, they are smooth.
Horse's teeth have rasied enamel ridges which allow them to effectively eat hay and grasses.
As our equine friends get older, these ridges wear away. So instead of the teeth feeling rough, they feel rather like the top of an ice cube. 2 ice cubes rubbing together does not grind hay down very well!
Many older horses simply CANNOT manage to eat hay. They wil sometimes still try, but swallowing poorly chewed hay can lead to choke and colic.
If your horse is struggling with eating hay, he may show the following signs
-Chewing and spitting hay then trying to eat it again
-Making a few trips to the water trough when eating hay
-Extending out his head and neck whilst chewing hay
-Spitting out large 'cigars' of hay.
You can wet down your hay to make it softer and a little easier to eat, just hose down and feed immediately. Do not leave wet hay out, it will become mouldy and very dangerous for your horse to eat.
BUT!!!! Do not fret, there is a solution. A clever Victorian company have come up with a product called 'hay cubes'. They are a block of short chopped, compressed hay. Several produce stores are stocking these cubes, and dollar for dollar, they are almost the same as hay.
My 26year old thoroughbred mare LOVES them, she can no longer eat hay, so every day I feed her 1kg of cubes.