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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May. 6, 1999
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    Ocala, FL
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    10,421

    Default Curiousity Survey: Breeders (esp. of 3+ mares/yr), how often do you check teeth?

    I just finished posting on another thread that I feel old and outdated (I should have said "cheap," too) because I generally don't have my babies teeth checked until they are five and/or are working under saddle and/or have specific problems about which I need to eliminate possible mouth/teeth issues.

    But now I'm hearing the recommendation is every six months until they are five! Look, I can't help but wonder: Should I get off my high horse and stop arrogantly thinking I'd realize if a baby had a tooth problem? Am I taking an unnecessary and/or dangerous risk in trying to save money by not having a dentist out just to tell me everything's fine? (Or, another way to put that, am I being unreasonably suspicious that if I have a dentist out to look at babies, they'll surely manage to find something?)

    Anyway, I've heard a dentist's viewpoint about the ideal schedule. Now I want to hear what really goes on. I'm sure not everyone does the same thing, hence my desire to, informally, survey what's what with the hope of finding a common standard. That said, I can understand why a smaller operation would do all that's necessary to insure perfection everywhere possible, but I'm wondering about folks with a significant number of horses. What's practical? What's risky?
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2004
    Location
    Virginia. We Do Ponies!
    Posts
    11,822

    Default Every six months, starting at a year.

    Then, we do twice yearly checks. Wolf teeth, sharp points are often problematic for the youngsters.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver, Equine Insurance Specialist



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 4, 2003
    Location
    Hurdle Mills, NC
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    4,103

    Default

    I'm with VB. Good dentists are incredibly important, too. I've seen less than expert ones leave ramps that caused ulcerations, fragments from a broken tooth in the gums, a piece of wood jammed and rotting between teeth, caps that failed to shed properly.... It's always amazing what horses can do to hurt themselves, and their mouths are no exception.

    Yes, I do think you're being too suspicious in thinking that if you have a dentist out, s/he'll "manage to find something." A good dentist will tell you which of your horses are fine, which ones need work, and will show you what kind of work needs doing and why, too. For years, I had the kind of dental work done that amounted to rasping by feel and the occasional wolf tooth removal. When I finally had a dentist out who used a speculum and light so I could SEE up there, I was downright shocked and needed very little convincing that the prescribed work was necessary.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep. 17, 2007
    Location
    Cloverdale, Ca.
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    1,614

    Default

    The vet looks in their mouth at 12 hours. Babies first check up.

    Again checks at 6 months.

    At 2 they're floated for the first time and any wolf teeth present are removed.

    Every year thereafter.
    Chris Misita
    www.hiddenvalleyfarms.net Home of Bravo and Warrick!
    To dare; progress comes at this price. All sublime conquests are, more or less, the rewards of daring.
    Victor Hugo



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan. 29, 2000
    Location
    Brownsburg, VA
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    2,947

    Default

    CHecked at 4 months by the vet, then again as yearlings by the dentist. Wolf teeth on the colts are addressed and removed upon castration (it's just too easy then). Yes, I have had wolf teeth on a filly. They were addessed at 2 years when they have their first float.

    I do not do every six months after that first float. They are done every year.
    "No matter how cynical I get its just not enough to keep up." Lily Tomlin



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 1999
    Posts
    14,496

    Default

    Absolutely we have the youngsters floated and wolf teeth pulled before putting a bit in their mouth. Usually that is around 2 1/2, but I would always have them floated by 3 even if we are not starting them. We will float earlier if one has a poor alignment. If they have a good mouth, we then float once a year after that. If an issue, we will go every 6 to 9 months - depending on the mouth. My dentist will often recheck the youngsters a month or 2 later to pop off any caps that are not shedding when he floats them, if he is here doing some other horses.

    I do occasionally check their mouths to see how sharp the teeth are.

    The older horses with good alignment can often go longer than a year, but we do check each year. Old horse's teeth get harder, so it takes longer to develop problems. Some may go 18 or even 24 months.



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug. 2, 2005
    Location
    Oxford, USA
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    3,671

    Default

    We are very vigilant from ages 2-7 and check every six months. My tooth guy is very willing to check for free and only charges for work done. Young mouths are very busy changing and can have sudden issues which affect training. As soon at a youngster starts to mess with its tongue or change eating habits we get them checked, even if only a short time has passed since the last check. We just had a coming four year old shedding molar caps on one side and one got stuck sideways--his sudden bridling issues were a cry for help which came immediately.
    Anne
    -------
    "Where knowledge ends violence begins." B. Ljundquist



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan. 15, 2004
    Location
    Lancaster, PA, USA
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    7,528

    Default

    OUr guy also only charges for work done. He comes once a year here. The weaners/yearlings he just takes a look and sticks the rasp in for practice. No one has gotten a real float job until they were 2. Ideally they should be checked every 6 mos from 2 to 5 as the teeth do change a lot in that time....but we have him come once a year. He checks everyone for free and only floats those in need....which is usually the young uns every year and the old ones every couple of years.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 14, 2004
    Location
    Virginia. We Do Ponies!
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    11,822

    Default

    It's really important to check teeth regularly for a variety of reasons. We check them all twice a year, regardless of age. As your ponies and horses age, keeping the sharp edges down helps them digest their food. We have a 29 year old whose teeth defy her age, thanks to our outstanding dentist. He frequently says, "Nothing at this visit, but make sure I check them next time".....he's awesome like that.
    Randee Beckman ~Otteridge Farm, LLC (http://on.fb.me/1iJEqvR)~ Marketing Manager - The Clothes Horse & Jennifer Oliver, Equine Insurance Specialist



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2004
    Location
    Loudoun County, VA
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    10,412

    Default

    I have all my horses checked twice a year by the dentist (or vet that does good dental work) regardless of age. But, I always have some wee ones in the barn, so it is no big deal to have the dentist check the others while here. I certainly would do every 6 months for any horse that is growing /developing, and would not think of starting a horse under saddle without getting the teeth checked first.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2005
    Location
    Pennsylvania
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    2,245

    Default

    I'm not a breeder, but I always have young ones and I used to have their teeth done once a year. That is until I had my daughter's young pony done two years ago. At some point he lost a cap way in the back of his mouth and it must have stayed connected and flipped over so that the sharp parts were facing toward his pallate and it wound up imbedded in the roof of his mouth. I don't know how long it was there and I can't even imagine how painful it was for him. I felt horrable. He had a big deep hole pushed into the roof of his mouth when we took the tooth out. The vet looked at the muscles in his jaw and forhead and they gave indication that he was only chewing on one side, the side opposite the imbedded tooth, for a while, so it wasn't a new thing. Now I use a flashlight to look in their mouths about once a week just to make sure everything looks good in there and I have the young ones teeth done every six months.

    Recently, there was a great episode of Chris Cox's show that featured an equine dentist. He recommended having young horses teeth checked every six months and floated only if necessary, but he said they need to be floated and smoothed before you begin riding them. He said that since a horses top teeth overhang their bottoms to the outside, they wind up with cuts on their cheeks all the time if there are any points. He also recommended a bit seat for every horse since the bit pulls their lips in and across the front teeth and any sharpness there would be painful for them. He had fantastic visuals and what he said made sense.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul. 5, 2002
    Location
    FL
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    8,275

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ahf View Post
    CHecked at 4 months by the vet, then again as yearlings by the dentist. Wolf teeth on the colts are addressed and removed upon castration (it's just too easy then). Yes, I have had wolf teeth on a filly. They were addessed at 2 years when they have their first float.

    I do not do every six months after that first float. They are done every year.
    Ditto, except that we check teeth 2 times a year after the first float and re-float as needed.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    May. 6, 1999
    Location
    Ocala, FL
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    Default

    Hmmm. The thing is, folks, I'm trying to think back on all the babies I've bred and broke, etc., to any that had anything that might have been the result of teeth issues when I broke them--and I can only think of one, the doomed Cory. Could his quirkiness have originated in his mouth? I don't know, but given that he lived with a stall full of plastic bags for six weeks and never lost his crazy-arsed fear of them, I'm inclined to think he was just weird...but then again, could he have been weird because of a lifetime of mouth pain????

    But, folks, I've had so many go on and do really well--so many that didn't have their teeth done on this kind of schedule. In fact, I can't think of a single non-cull that hasn't pleased its new owners (I'm sure there's someone(s) out there, but I've just not heard). See what I mean, though? In this day and age where hay is $14 a bale, this is one of those subjects where I really, truly wonder whether we're overdoing it in terms of the odds. I don't mean in terms of whether it's the best thing to do--obviously, it is.

    Could it be because I ride my guys (alas, less so now, which is maybe one of the reasons why I'm so troubled by this)? As a rider, I remember well the feel of the mouth. I know that feel so intimately. Could that be the basis of my skepticism here? My horses look great and nearly every single one of them have ridden just great--even Kevvie, whose teeth I know are an issue right now, is zooming along wonderfully under saddle. And the thing is, "enthusiasm" is the hallmark of my breeding program. Could I be getting away with something here because my guys are "bred to be enthusiastic," maybe regardless of their comfort levels?

    I really, truly doubt that. I don't believe in the "bred to be enthusiastic," frankly. I think they become enthusiastic by how they are handled and trained...but that would include my negligence of their teeth. Do you suppose this could be a subject like saddles? Twenty years ago, we didn't have the high-tech, high-design saddles we have today, but the majority of horses still did just fine. So I continue to struggle with whether I need to spend a few thousand dollars are year on teeth any more than I need to spend a few thousand dollars on a saddle.

    Crimey! I really AM getting old. I can hear it in my own words, but I can't stop! Someone clonk me on the head with a brick, please, because it's just not soaking in.
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 1999
    Posts
    14,496

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by pwynnnorman View Post
    In this day and age where hay is $14 a bale, this is one of those subjects where I really, truly wonder whether we're overdoing it in terms of the odds. I don't mean in terms of whether it's the best thing to do--obviously, it is.
    Especially when hay is so expensive, that annual $75 float is CHEAP. I am sure it pays for itself during the year by needing to feed less hay and grain - like deworming. Wolf teeth are very sharp and painful as they are in the area that the bit rides, so removing them is not something I would in anyway neglect before breaking. If I can't afford to have them done, I would put off the breaking.

    The expense of it is one of the reasons why I am so against power floats. When it gets that expensive to have horse's teeth done, people put it off, and the horse suffers. Find a dentist that is reasonable, and does a GREAT jpb with manual floats. A good dentist will also show you how to check yourself.

    You are not going to keep a smooth mouth with a youngster as with the soft teeth, they will ususally be just as sharp within 30 days, but you can keep issues from developing to the point of ulcers, etc. A good dentist will help you to know what horses need to be done more often, and what ones do not. My dentist has many horses that only need to be done every 2 years. One of my stallions is fine going 2 years, the other 18 months. Most of my mares can go 2 years, but one needs to be done at 18 months.

    A horse may have an awful problem with their mouth and the rider may never know. A year ago we had a lovely 10 year old Dutch mare come in from California. When our dentist checked her, he found her mouth locked. She had worn grooves in her teeth so the circular chewing motion was not possible. She could only chew sideways, back and forth along the grooves. She also had horrible ulcers in her cheeks. She was a jumper mare in heavy training, but we don't believe her teeth had ever been done.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct. 4, 2003
    Location
    Hurdle Mills, NC
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    4,103

    Default

    I find your use of the term "non-culls" interesting, and have often found myself wondering how many "culls" may have been "non-culls" (and even truly wonderful horses), if provided with careful saddle fit and dentistry.

    Re saddle fit: I've had several horses go from very easy to break, agreeable, good moving youngsters to snarky and short-moving as a result of outgrowing their saddles, and returned to true potential after refitting. The first was misdiagnosed for 4 years before we finally figured out what the problem was-- hock injections, regumate, etc., the vets tried seemingly countless things in efforts to relieve the obvious back pain, but nothing worked until I got a saddle fitter out-- new saddle and I had my great mare back again after 4+ years of irritability, inversion, etc. That was about 12 years ago. Since then I've seen countless horses given very bad breaks in life by people who insist on using the same saddle on every horse whether it fits or not. It makes me cringe to watch.

    I've also read about truly great (as in GP jumper) horses bought cheap because unrecognized mouth problems had made them unrideable and seen plenty of hitherto difficult to handle/ edgy horses become a great deal more relaxed when treated to overdue dental work.

    Such treatments can be expensive, but seem somewhat less so when you consider that the difference between being a difficult/highly sensitive ride and an easy/calm/focused one can amount to many thousands of $ in a lot of circles.

    And then, of course, there are the humanitarian issues.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov. 23, 2001
    Location
    Catharpin, Virginia
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    6,671

    Default

    I have babies teeth done around age two and have a bit seat done. They are checked/done every 6 months until they are adults. As adults, annually. Geriatric horses, every 6 months.



  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun. 4, 2001
    Location
    Florida
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    4,196

    Default

    "that annual $75 float is CHEAP"
    God I wish mine was that cheap. I have a great dentist but he has gone for 90 a float to almost $200 b/c he wanted to make the same amount of money but no longer travel to NY. As much as I like my Dr, I'm actively looking to change to someone more reasonable.
    "Sometimes you just have to shut up and color."



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar. 20, 2005
    Location
    Lexington, KY
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    764

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    Well, I guess I've got to admit I'm more of a minimalist than some others. I have a fantastic dentist who comes every 6 months, but I preselect who he sees. My youngsters get a check before being broken or shortly thereafter. Up until the past few years, though, I didn't bother unless there was a problem.

    As far as choosing who sees the dentist, anybody that I can feel any sharp edges on or anybody who isn't quite as fat as their peers or is dropping grain, shaking their head or the least bit fussy about the bit gets checked. Or, if they haven't been checked in a while they get checked.

    Honestly, I think how you keep your horses makes a lot of difference. Most of mine live outside and primarily graze for their nutrition (of course they get a ration balancer in addition), which naturally helps the teeth to wear properly. So, most of my horses are very low maintenance from a dental perspective. My two grown (not babies) riding horses (one gelding, one mare) have never had any dental work done whatsoever, though they have been checked regularly.

    I agree though, that for horses who really need it, the dentist is a good value. A float can make all the difference for a hard keeper. However (and maybe I've just been lucky), I have never had the dentist find anything of significance in an easy keeper with a quiet mouth.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    May. 6, 1999
    Location
    Ocala, FL
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    Default

    Find a dentist that is reasonable, and does a GREAT jpb with manual floats. A good dentist will also show you how to check yourself. [And I don't already? Why assume I'm ignorant when I've been breeding and dealing with babies for almost a quarter century?]

    You are not going to keep a smooth mouth with a youngster as with the soft teeth, they will ususally be just as sharp within 30 days, but you can keep issues from developing to the point of ulcers, etc. A good dentist will help you to know what horses need to be done more often...
    Again, it's not rocket science--most of the time. Old horsemen knew on their own, without dentists. This is why I'm really starting to wonder about this. Do we have to be told everything these days: whether the saddle fits, whether the testicles are down, whether it's the right fake tail (when I asked a question about fake tails on the h-j board, I was told to ask "my braider" to decide for me), whether there's a problem in a babies mouth that NEEDS to be corrected? Do we no longer have the horsemanship to recognize issues on our own--including issues that will work themselves out verses those that need intervention? And what are the odds of needing intervention verses the odds they'll work themselves out? IMO, it's like vaccinating for Venezulan Encephalomyelitis in upstate New York or Potomac fever in Montana: What are the odds?

    And, Fish, I cull VERY young--I can't afford not to--so what you imply about potential is silly. I'm not about to wait until their old enough for some oddball teeth issue to crop up before I cull. I can't afford that either! The last one I culled was a plain, brown colt with a roman nose that would never sell for what I'd end up putting into him. Previously, my culls included two dwarfish-looking creatures, a mare that kept throwing 13.3h, a plain-looking yearling filly with her Mom's idiot-TB temperament (Mom wasn't culled because, thankfully, all her others were sweet boys) AND a hernia her new owners were willing to operate on but not I, plus the occasional other beasties who I judged would suck down my business by forcing me to spend money on something that'd never pay me back. I cull almost exclusively for physical reasons--heck, if I had a plain-looking, homebred filly and the filly DID need major dental work, I'd probably consider culling her, too!

    Fish, I consider myself a horsewoman who would cover ALL of the angles you discussed if ever I had a significant problem with something I was producing. Fact is, I HAVEN'T HAD PROBLEMS and I've had a fair number of beasties exceed far beyond a measly college teacher's salary would ordinarily take them--and just a lot of happy buyers, too. See what I mean, honestly? If I'm not having problems, I'm having a hard time upping the ante here. Oh, I'll probably go all out with the two babies I'm expecting this year because they'll be so unique (and costly to have produced), but I guess I'm a lot more like stock horse breeders in that I guess I don't believe in a heck of lot of early intervention. For me, I don't see how it pays.

    And, please, if you think I've got, as a result, a bunch of rough-coated, stunted, broncs--come visit, anytime.
    Sportponies Unlimited
    Athletic Thoroughbred crosses for the highly motivated, smaller rider.



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Oct. 29, 1999
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    Find a dentist that is reasonable, and does a GREAT jpb with manual floats. A good dentist will also show you how to check yourself. [And I don't already? Why assume I'm ignorant when I've been breeding and dealing with babies for almost a quarter century?]

    You are not going to keep a smooth mouth with a youngster as with the soft teeth, they will ususally be just as sharp within 30 days, but you can keep issues from developing to the point of ulcers, etc. A good dentist will help you to know what horses need to be done more often...
    Sorry Wynn, by "you" I didn't mean you personally, just a statement to generic "you" to encourage people to get their dentists to help them learn, so they can do more themselves.

    I totally agree about the being told though. I have several boarders that call for their West Nile booster in November when they get their "card" in the mail to remind them. uuummm, WHY? We are in Northern Virginia. Mosquitoes are all dead, and none expected until April or May. <sigh>, "but the VET said .... "



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