Equestrian Life


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Day 16..the dentist

I am a fanatic about my equine dentistry. Good dental care for your horse is as important as good foot care. The condition of the horses teeth effect more than just how the horse rides with a bit. Waves, ridges, sharp points, bite seat, unerupted teeth and periodontal pockets cause poor behavior, weight loss, serious pain and ill health. A "normal" vet may not have the skills to do more than a yearly float. He may not catch cracked teeth, cysts, periodontal pockets or loose teeth. An equine dentist is the best person to do the job. He/she has the training, skills and equipment to "see" the real problems and "reach" the unbalanced teeth at the very back of the jaw.

My Jedi
I almost lost my most beloved horse to poor dentistry. Jedi, due to his age (19 at the time) had been seeing the "normal" vet for twice a year floatings already. His age and inability to hold weight, even though he was a notoriously easy keeper, prompted the vet to see him twice a year. This vet belonged to one of the biggest equine practices in the state. An equine hospital known for their skill and expertise. I thought I was doing the right thing, not knowing any better.

Even with twice a year floatings, Jedi was losing weight. We tested him for parasites, metabolic disorders, possible cancer, everything we could think of. He was getting senior feed, hay, alfalfa pellets soaked in corn oil and every variety of weight gain / vitamin product possible. They helped but not enough. He was skin and bones.

One weekend, I attended the Backcountry Horseman Jubilee. Dr. Vetter with Performance Equine Dentistry was one of the vendors. I made a beeline for his trailer and asked a few important questions. A week later, Jedi was under the care of Dr. Vetter. Turns out, he had two periodontal pockets that were years old and completely missed by the "normal" vet floatings. He also had two very loose front teeth that caused excessive pain every time he bit down. Dr. Vetter addressed these two issues and within 3 months Jedi was getting back to normal weight. Jedi is very stoic and did not show this pain. Dr. Vetter saved his life and I am forever grateful to him.

Now, all my horses see the equine dentist yearly. Some, twice a year. My horses in training are no exception. I insist that they see Dr. Vetter before I even attempt to ride with a bit. It just isn't fair to the horse to expect them to perform without knowing that their mouths are in good shape.

Today, was Monty's day to see Dr. Vetter. Just like he has been to date, he took it all in stride. He walked right up to the trailer, received his initial sedation and then wobbled in.

As I suspected, Monty had sharp points and waves, along with two wolf teeth, plus an unerupted canine. Dr. Vetter addressed these, as well as, cleaned his sheath (little boy parts). Unlike Patriot, he was completely stoic about these procedures but still looked to me for support (even under sedation). I was standing next to him in the stocks, rubbing and talking to him. At one point, I walked to the front to take pictures and he lost track of me. You should have seen the look in his eye turn to fear! WOW! Dr. Vetter's wife and trusty assistant, Kathy, said "You better get back here!" I did and he immediately relaxed. I am always amazed how much mustangs will bond with their trainers. It's a gift of joy I receive with each mustang I train.


Dodge said...

Geez Jamie
How time flies huh? I read all 16 days this evening when I got home from the tax man. Again, I am so proud of you and your mission to see that Mustangs are brought to the attention of us laymen - 1 horse at a time. I am amazed at how quickly these horses are willing to please. I only wish that I could take my horse back to the basics after I see what you have accomplished in these few short weeks. I can't wait to see Monty in person and apologize for not getting there sooner. Carry on. You are doing super again!!

jtjedi said...

Thanks Dodge. Come by any time. If it's not snowing this weekend, let's go for a trail ride!

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