The Flying U Ranch recently hosted the ICEVO Combination Basic and Advanced Equine Dentistry Seminar. Some top international experts on equine dentistry lectured, facilitated and coached fifteen vets from all over North America - Seriously, participants came from as far as North Dakota and Georgia!
What exactly happened?
Horses need dental work just like people do. Abnormal wear can create sharp points on horses normally flat teeth, causing pain, and preventing the horse from being able to properly chew it's forage, and digest the nutrients. In extreme cases, the pain may be so great it prevents the horse from being able to freely eat.
What is "floating?"
Floating a horse's teeth means to file or rasp their teeth to make the chewing surfaces relatively flat or smooth. The type of file used for this is called a "float," which is where the procedure gets its name. In our seminar the veterinarians used both hand and power floats were used.
Some of our horses also had loose, corroding, and reabsorbing teeth, which needed to extracted. Horses, like people, are much more comfortable once problem teeth have been removed, and generally this does not effect their ability to graze normally.
The horses were all sedated for the procedures, which were primarily performed in our barn with extensive technical veterinary equipment.
And why is this so exciting?
Neglected dental care can cause both horse and owner all types of problems.
Pain in the mouth can affect soundness and manners both on ground and under saddle. Horses with dental pain are often harder to catch, and can toss their heads and pull at their reins in protest to the discomfort caused by the bit. Dental work makes the horse much more comfortable, often having the same effect on the rider/handler.
Horses with sharp points and loose or infected teeth cannot break down the fibres in their food, preventing them from being able to properly absorb nutrients. Often, when one finds trouble keeping condition on a horse (especially an older horse) the root problem can be found in the mouth (pun not intended); when a horse starts dropping condition (weight), the first thing you generally have checked are it's teeth.
Over the next few weeks we will be comparing weights on many of our older, harder keepers, looking for increase in condition. Not only were we able to drastically improve comfort for our geriatrics, but hopefully, will be able to keep weight on easier over the winter months.
We were also lucky enough to have a surplus of advice on worming and feeding, with Dr. Booth going as far as to help us devise us a new winter feeding plan.
With some smooth new teeth, increased supplements in their diets, and new worming plans, we are looking forward to retiring some of our hardest workers is as much comfort as possible.