Technical problems? Time for a dental check!

Bij rijtechnische problemen is het verstandig het gebit te laten checken. (Foto: Digishots)

‘Horses with issues in the mouth often struggle to give to the bit when ridden, they tend to move with an upside-down neck and hollow in the back,’ veterinarian Ids de Boer from Animal Clinic Emmeloord states. ‘Issues with the neck and back can be (partially) caused by dental problems.’

Acting on the advice of a physiotherapist, an 8-year-old Friesian gelding was taken to the Animal Clinic Emmeloord for X-ray testing of the neck and back. Because of riding problems the horse had already been seen by a physiotherapist on several occasions. Everything went smoothly up to L2 level, but in recent M1 tests comments on the protocol frequently pointed out the horse was too tight, needed to develop more bend through the body and a better contact on the rein.

The owner indicated that the horse had undergone clinical- and X-ray vetting at the time of purchase four years back, the saddle had been adjusted by a saddler to fit the horse, dental checks as well as routine treatment by a physiotherapist were carried out on a yearly basis. Physical examination revealed restricted mobility of the neck and back. However, touching of the jaw also triggered a clear reaction from the horse and even more striking was that the mobility of the lower jaw in relation to the upper jaw was fairly restricted.

Carrying out a thorough dental check on this horse was no problem with the help of sedation and palliatives. Using a mouth speculum makes it possible to conduct a thorough and good check deep into the mouth and to administer treatment. The first molars in the front of the lower jaw were slightly raised. Especially in the back of the mouth considerable differences in level were found as well as some sharp hooks. For the owner this was a bit disappointing as she had made sure the horse received dental care every year. Equine dentists usually do their job well, but we also see that treatment carried out manually and without sedation affects the optimum quality of treatment.

‘Correcting the differences in level, slightly rasping down the front molars and equalising the teeth proved to be a great improvement. Recently the owner informed us that the riding problems had disappeared and haven´t come back. The horse moves much better through its body and is very responsive with a fine, still contact on the bit,’ Ids de Boer concludes.

Read the full real-life article by Ids de Boer, MA in the October issue of Phryso.