Friday, April 17, 2009

Dentist day for Bar and Lena



The horses survived a day of dentistry!

Our vet came out to the barn, armed with drugs, her dremel, and hand floats. Leslie was pretty sure Lena's mouth was in good shape--having done Lena's teeth once herself and assisted once, plus checking them periodically--but we had no idea what Bar's mouth would be like.

His was not the worst mouth Leslie had ever seen, but he definitely had some issues. He had a lot of hooks, including caudal hooks way in the back on "tooth number 11" and some pretty severe rostral hooks. He also had a pretty good wave going on in his mouth that will need more attention before next year. This page has some good pictures of the things we found in Bar's mouth. The wave is caused by, then exacerbated by, uneven growth and wear. Leslie took it down a lot and we'll have her back in eight months or so to be sure we're staying on top of it with him.

Horses, like humans, can have good mouths or bad mouths. Lena has a genetically good mouth, but some breeds are known for not being so lucky. Mustangs apparently have (overall) great mouths, which makes sense--natural selection would pretty quickly weed out horses that didn't. Thoroughbreds, not surprisingly, are not known for having good mouths. Bar's isn't deformed (no over-bite or under-bite), and the good news is his teeth do line up beautifully, so with good care we can alleviate a lot of the challenges he has.

Both horses were really well behaved--even with drugs, some horses are not easy to work on. Bar's worst moment was waiting in the stall beforehand while Leslie got the first shot of drugs ready for him, but even though he did a little dancing, he hung in there and listened to me without getting out of control or aggressive. Even when he would start to come around, he didn't fight--and he was in the "chair" for a long time.

Leslie told me she can see how far Bar has come, not only how much he trusts us and how bonded he is to us, but also how much more "in his head" he is than when we first got him. That was a nice compliment, and validates what I see in him. I don't know if the tooth issues have anything to do with his behavior under saddle--and I won't know for a couple days because he's getting a break from the bit for a few days while his mouth heals--but it certainly couldn't have been helping the situation.

Here is a slide show of some of the choice shots from the day:

video

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