An important topic we'd like to address here is the misconception that young horses don't need dental work. About the time you plan to introduce them to a bit is actually an excellent time to visually evaluate their mouth. Attending to any vagrant caps or anatomical issues is important for a good beginning in training. Imagine what it must feel like getting that cold hard bit placed in your mouth for the first time..... now add a pinch a rattle or an ouch from loose caps or a cheek ulcer to the process and you may end up with a horse that throws his head or otherwise tries to avoid the pain.... Doesn't sound like a great way to start a riding relationship does it? A general wellness exam, including dental evaluation can avoid adding unnecessary trauma and add insight to managing this challenging time in your horse's life. Don't forget older horses either, It's always wise to rule out mouth pain or discomfort as a source of training problems like head tossing, avoidance, "temper tantrums" or steering issues. Just like your own children, we want our horses to love going out to school!
To graphically demonstrate this issue, Gwen Marshall was kind enough to let us photograph her barely 3 year old Kendric Wind's first dental exam. Kenny has already been successfully showing in hand and lightly under saddle with regional top 5 placings to his credit. There were no warning signs or indications that he might have any problems with his mouth or teeth. Follow this series of images from his exam and you'll appreciate how important it is to get in there and have a look early.
Key to images below, left to right; (note; this is a fairly typical exam for this age horse)
Speculum; you cannot do an adequate dental exam without good visualization, period.
Points, caps and ulcers..... oh my! right cheek and left cheek too.
It's not just about seeing, it's also about carefully feeling the alignment, teeth & gums
Removing a cap.... sharp little buggers, aren't they!
Incisors come in at 2.5, 3.5 & 4.5 years of age (center to corners)
nice smile Kenny, you're welcome!
PS> Kenny is for sale, a versatile show prospect by Gwen's stallion WB Corre Con El Viento