In the theme of, get all of the maintenance work done before real training starts for the season, May saw the Dentist. Now, I originally was going to put this off a bit, as she wasn’t technically due. However, at May’s lameness eval, the vet stuck her hand in May’s mouth, gave me the hairy eyeball, and asked how long it’s been since she had been done… “Uh… about 8 months,” I managed to stammer.
The vet gave me a strange look, stuck her hand back into May’s mouth and said, “Who did you use?” Of course, I couldn’t remember the name of the guy I used once… 8 months ago. She just shook her head and recommended I try someone different this time and get them done sooner, rather than later. Well… Ugh.
So, in true horse-mom fashion, May had a dentist appointment about 10 days later. I opted for someone that doesn’t sedate unless he has to. I know this is a controversial subject, so all I will say on it is that I have a horse that can be tricky to drug (due to her draft blood), and the horse had just been sedated 10 days prior. If you get your horse injected 2x a year and you do their teeth 2x a year by someone who automatically sedates, that means you are a sedating 4x a year. (you can try to combine the visits, but at the levels we drug May, she only stays “sedated” for about 30 – 45 minutes… not really enough for injections and a full teeth float). I have 0 evidence that this is bad for your horse, but I know all sedation comes with risks (again – especially with certain breeds), so I chose to try someone who doesn’t sedate.
The dentist was recommended by basically the entire barn, and he even showed up on time. It was a good start. He also gave me a weird look when he put his hands into my horse’s mouth… I had just gotten done telling him how she had been done 8 months ago, but that I didn’t think they did a good job. He clearly agreed with me. Although, he was surprised at how fat she was able to be “despite how bad her teeth were.” Not sure if that one was a compliment May… I told him that if she ever started really dropping weight, she’d be at a full blown clinic the next day. At least he laughed at that one.
He was great though. He took the extra few minutes to get May comfortable, and he also took the time to educate me a bit. I have seen teeth being done many times on sedated horses and non sedated horses. I have spoken to many vets, equine dentists, barn mangers, horse owners, etc etc about teeth. I have looked into horse’s mouths, but this was the first time anyone actually took my hand, put it into my horse’s mouth, and showed me exactly where his concerns were. He ran my thumb over the issue areas, and showed me where to massage May’s face to check for any sensitivity. Then, when he was done, he went through the whole thing with me again, so that I could clearly feel the difference between right and wrong. It was a great moment in my education as a horse person.
I keep talking about her history, and I mention that, when I got her, she still had a wolf tooth on the left side. I gave myself a small, humble brag and talked about how I immediately had it removed. He, once again, gave me the hairy eyeball… oh what now!
“She still has a wolf tooth on the left side.” I stared at him, incredulous.
“What? I saw the tooth they pulled 3 years ago.”
“Well, there’s still one here. Can I take it out?”
“Yeah… of course.” I should probably mention here that this MADE SENSE. I have been struggling forever to get May onto my left rein when tracking right (aka – into the outside rein). This is not at all an issue going left, but it is nearly impossible going right. I was, of course, blaming myself. I figured that I was just better with my right hand because it’s my dominant hand. In reality, it’s a lot more likely that the wolf tooth was causing her pain.
The process was relatively quick, and as soon as it was over, May was visibly more comfortable (and totally ready to go back to her hay). Turns out, this was about half a wolf tooth… but enough to cause a problem. As the dentist rinsed off his tools, he said to me, “So for pleasure, companion animals, I only really recommend we do them ever year unless there’s a problem.” I blinked up at him for a second.
“Oh… actually… she’s my competition horse. We event.” Now, it was his turn to be shocked. I pulled out a picture of May jumping, and he took the phone from my hand, as if making sure it was the same horse.
“Well look at that, she really gets up there! If that’s the case, then I like to see them ever 6 months.” Sounded fair to me, and I feel a lot better knowing May is more comfortable now and being a bit more educated on the subject. Unfortunately, I haven’t really gotten to test out how she feels. I gave her the rest of the day off on Saturday, rode her really lightly on Sunday. On Monday, our dryer died and I had to meet the husband after work to pick up a new one, and then it decided to snow 5″ on Tuesday in KY…
Oh well, back at it tonight! Have you ever had any nasty surprises when you’ve had routine work done on your horse?