Thursday, April 19, 2012

Calabar's mouth

Stoned pony.
Calabar has a mouth on him. A mouth with a wave and a slight over-jet (kind of like an over bite). The first time our vet Leslie did his teeth, it took an hour and a half and three shots. "He needs to go every six months," she said. And she doesn't recommend things just to steal my money. She does not like having to spend that much time in a horse's mouth--it's hard on her and  it's hard on the horse.

So we have spent the last four years or so getting his mouth in better shape and bit by bit, it's been working. Today, she was in his mouth just over a half hour and it really only took one big shot. He got a booster so she could work on his front teeth without major objection, but she was done almost before the full effects hit him.

A horse's teeth erupt continuously until they hit their late teens or early twenties. That means they keep growing out of their jaw and getting worn down--sometimes in nice, even patterns and sometimes not. Yes in Lena's case; no in Calabar's case. Because of his pathology--the wave and the over-jet--he gets sharp "hooks" on the sides of his teeth and at the very back of his bottom teeth. These hooks can (and have) caused ulcers in his mouth. Ulcers where the bit goes are not a good plan.  As a horse gets older and the teeth stop erupting, it leaves you with less and less room to correct the pathology. Big changes in a horse's mouth are not good, so our steady approach will serve us well as he ages.

In fact, it's already served us well. He had no ulcers in his mouth today and can go eight months this time instead of six.

Our funny moment came shortly after the above photo was taken. He looks out of it, right? He was snoring a little, even. I asked Leslie if she was okay watching him so I could go get my checkbook and she said yes, both of us assuming he was not going anywhere. I started up the barn aisle to the door and heard a shout and mild commotion behind me. I turned around to see my big brown horse staggering out the stall to follow me.

"I guess you should put him away, then," Leslie quipped.

So I led the stumble-footed boy to his paddock, didn't let him eat grass (much to his dismay), and reassured Lena and Forrest that Calabar was indeed okay. Stoned out of his gourd, but okay.

And with  a much happier mouth to boot.

Lena and Forrest have their turn on Tuesday. They can hardly wait.

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