By nature horses are grazing animals and would graze up to twenty hours a day. Modern management practices has changed that lifestyle including their diet which can affect the way teeth wear from young performance horses to retired lawn ornaments.
Routine dental care is an essential part of your horse's health and an integral part of preventative medicine these days. By selecting what our horses eat and placing metal in their mouths, we have to be responsible for the health of their oral cavity. Horses' teeth continually erupt through their entire lives so it is imperative we monitor their teeth for proper wear to avoid preventable dental abnormalities. Proper dental care has its own rewards - more comfort chewing, improved feed conversion and improved performance under saddle.
Horses with dental abnormalities may or may not show any obvious signs of a problem in their mouths such as pain or irritation. Some horses can adapt or adjust to their discomfort so periodic examination of the mouth is important to identify problems. The most common include:
- Sharp enamel points on cheek teeth
- Retained caps
- Bit contact on wolf teeth
- Sharp canine teeth or "blind" canine teeth
- Broken teeth
- Periodontal disease
- Uneven molar surfaces - "wave mouth"
- Misalignment due to confirmation/trauma
The term "floating" is familiar to most horse owners. It derives actually from an old masonry term to level a surface. Floating removes sharp points, that develop naturally from chewing and also 'levels' the grinding surface of the molars that is essential for proper mastication of food prior to swallowing. If this does not occur they will drop their food or even worse, possibly create a 'choke' situation which is a true emergency.
If a horse exhibits abnormal behaviour related to feeding or biting, dental problems should be considered as a potential cause, it is important to identify dental problems early. Postponing a dental procedure may increase the difficulty of resolving the problem creating stress for you and your horse.
Reproduction in horses today includes primarily artificial insemination with fresh, fresh-cooled and frozen semen. This has allowed some of the world’s top stallions to be accessible to any horse owner. Preparing your mare for breeding starts with a phone call so I can answer any questions about the process. As well, breeding your mare can be done at your farm or mares can be shipped to a local facility for your convenience. Storage of frozen semen is offered at a minimal fee.
Preventable Health Care
Vaccinations are a vital part of the proper equine health management. They are essential to help reduce the risk of disease from a variety of pathogens that may reduce your horse’s performance and possibly avoid serious illness. Core vaccines are defined as vaccines important to protect your horse from diseases endemic to a region or have potential public health concerns. This group of vaccines have a proven benefit to your horse supported by years of rigorous clinical evaluation. This group includes: tetanus, eastern and western encephalomyelitis (EEE/WEE), West Nile virus and Rabies. Similarly important is prevention against Herpes (Rhinopneumonitis) virus. We often refer to them as Flu/Rhine and they can spread easily through barns and show stabling. These two viruses can markedly reduce your horse's’ performance and once to twice a year vaccination is key to reducing their prevalence.
Vaccinations for Potomac Horse Fever, Strangles or Botulism are available on request.
More intensive housing situations in stables requires effective and efficient deworming protocols to avoid resistance and potential health risks to your horse. I work closely stable managers to ensure this goal is met from farm management practices to fecal analysis to assess success of the parasite control program. Becoming complacent about deworming can be as serious as over-worming and inexpensive tests allow accurate monitoring.
Lameness can come from multiple sources. Causes range from rigorous performance to accidnets in the paddock. Some problems can be very obvious, while others may present only under certain circumstances. Thus the importance of a proper physical exam ranging from limb palpation to gait analysis under various conditions. Appropriate diagnosis followed with correct therapy reduces time away from the competition ring or pleasure riding on the trail.
Exams may involve diagnostic blocks to isolate the locations of lameness as well as imaging with radiographs or ultrasound to ‘visualize’ the source. There are some conditions that may even require more advanced diagnostics procedures such as MRI or Nuclear Scintigraphy. We are lucky to be located close to multiple referral centers that offer these services if needed.
A preventative approach to lameness is a primary approach of my practice. This ranges from working closely with farriers to make sure your horse’s feet are in good condition - shod or barefoot - to proper conditioning programs for your specific discipline. Recognizing early issues that may progress to more serious conditions, can markedly reduce any therapy required.