Assist your Horse Through Season Change #3 – Long in the Tooth
Different weather patterns and vegetal growth have a significant impact on animals who live outside. Transitioning between seasons can be challenging, especially when conditions change dramatically. Properly managing some vital practices will provide your horse with the best chance for weathering these potentially severe fluctuations.
In the wild, horses have access to hours of grazing to trim their own teeth. Our domestic horses don’t have that, so they need dental help. It’s important to have a horse’s teeth balanced periodically, especially when their food and conditions are changing. Unfortunately, a problem occurs when these “equine dentists” get too heavy-handed. The industry now has power tools to make it easier for practitioners to float horses’ teeth. But power tools also make it easy to get carried away and shave too much off.
Horses’ teeth continue to grow, but only about three or four inches throughout their lifetime, and all growth ceases at around 12 years old. Some older horses are now having serious problems masticating their food because, somewhere along the line, someone has been a bit heavy handed with the power tools and shaved too much off their teeth.
I think of it like this: if our horses only grew three or four inches of hoof throughout their lifetimes, we’d be extremely careful who we let near them with a rasp or nippers. Similarly, we need to be very careful who we allow in our horses’ mouths. When choosing a “dentist” for your horse, make sure the practitioner is well educated, practiced and comfortable using hand tools.
Cover photo credit: Dan Cook