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Teeth worn down from cribbing - bitless options?

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  • Teeth worn down from cribbing - bitless options?

    Hello all! I have a quick question.

    My 15 year old TB has been a cribber all his life, and his teeth are pretty significantly worn down as a result of it. He's always worn a cribbing collar, and at times a cribbing muzzle, but has still managed to get in enough cribbing time to wear down his teeth over these 15 years.

    The top teeth are almost worn down to the gum. He still eats fine, grazes, and doesn't seem at all bothered when I ride. However, I'm still worried that at some point he's not going to be able to eat, and/or, a bit is going to hurt his mouth. Should I be considering bitless options? And is there anything I can do to prevent (or even reverse?) the deterioration of his teeth? I know their teeth grow throughout their lives... so I'm wondering if I could somehow entirely prevent all cribbing/chewing, maybe they would make a slight amount of growth progress.

    Again, he doesn't seem bothered by it... but I'm not really sure how significant of a problem this could turn out to be, seeing as he is the only cribber I have ever owned.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    As far as bits go- they sit behind the incisors, which are what is worn down by the cribbing, so that shouldn't be a worry. Bits act on the corners of their mouth/lips and, depending on the design of the bit, the bars of the their mouth behind the incisors and possibly the top of their palate, but never their front teeth, so far as I am aware.

    Getting him to stop cribbing so that the teeth aren't completely worn down, however, might be a concern. Tough problem. I have one that will crib through a collar too- might stop the air getting down his lungs but he still wears his teeth down trying. I tried to spray things he cribs on with some of those nasty tasting products, and none seemed to work. Only thing that really works is containing him with something impossible to crib on- run a hotwire on the top fence posts on his pasture, make water troughs the low, shallow tubs on the ground, etc. But if he's stalled, that's another problem, as he can always crib on the water bucket. At least if he can't crib in the pasture, that might mitigate some of the damage.

    Originally posted by dappled View Post
    Hello all! I have a quick question.

    My 15 year old TB has been a cribber all his life, and his teeth are pretty significantly worn down as a result of it. He's always worn a cribbing collar, and at times a cribbing muzzle, but has still managed to get in enough cribbing time to wear down his teeth over these 15 years.

    The top teeth are almost worn down to the gum. He still eats fine, grazes, and doesn't seem at all bothered when I ride. However, I'm still worried that at some point he's not going to be able to eat, and/or, a bit is going to hurt his mouth. Should I be considering bitless options? And is there anything I can do to prevent (or even reverse?) the deterioration of his teeth? I know their teeth grow throughout their lives... so I'm wondering if I could somehow entirely prevent all cribbing/chewing, maybe they would make a slight amount of growth progress.

    Again, he doesn't seem bothered by it... but I'm not really sure how significant of a problem this could turn out to be, seeing as he is the only cribber I have ever owned.

    Thanks!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by breakthru View Post
      As far as bits go- they sit behind the incisors, which are what is worn down by the cribbing, so that shouldn't be a worry. Bits act on the corners of their mouth/lips and, depending on the design of the bit, the bars of the their mouth behind the incisors and possibly the top of their palate, but never their front teeth, so far as I am aware.

      Getting him to stop cribbing so that the teeth aren't completely worn down, however, might be a concern. Tough problem. I have one that will crib through a collar too- might stop the air getting down his lungs but he still wears his teeth down trying. I tried to spray things he cribs on with some of those nasty tasting products, and none seemed to work. Only thing that really works is containing him with something impossible to crib on- run a hotwire on the top fence posts on his pasture, make water troughs the low, shallow tubs on the ground, etc. But if he's stalled, that's another problem, as he can always crib on the water bucket. At least if he can't crib in the pasture, that might mitigate some of the damage.
      The only reason I had concerns about bits was because I worry that it's painful or uncomfortable for him when I actually put the bit in his mouth. Normally you'd press the bit against their teeth for them to open their mouth but I'm afraid, in his cause, I'm just pressing metal on his gums.

      And yes... that's the biggest issue. He's never had colic as a result of cribbing or any other problems for that matter. Even if the collar is tight enough to prevent him from sucking in air, he still wore his teeth down to nubs. He does get a lot of turnout so I'm not sure when he's doing all this chewing, I'm just not sure what I can do for this teeth at this point.

      Thanks for your reply!
      Last edited by dappled; Jul. 2, 2012, 06:08 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by dappled View Post
        The only reason I had concerns about bits was because I worry that it's painful for uncomfortable for him when I actually put the bit in his mouth. Normally you'd press the bit against their teeth for them to open their mouth but I'm afraid, in his cause, I'm just pressing metal on his gums.
        Huh. Curious. I've never asked a horse to take the bit by pressing the bit against their teeth. I put my thumb in the corner of the mouth and ask them to open up. The bit never touches the front teeth.

        If that's the only reason you're looking to change what you're riding him in, then just change the way you ask for him to take the bit.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Simkie View Post
          Huh. Curious. I've never asked a horse to take the bit by pressing the bit against their teeth. I put my thumb in the corner of the mouth and ask them to open up. The bit never touches the front teeth.

          If that's the only reason you're looking to change what you're riding him in, then just change the way you ask for him to take the bit.
          I had the same thought. To get them to open their mouth to accept the bit, I slip my thumb in the corner and press down on the bars of their mouth where the bit goes.

          Comment


          • #6
            Teach him to open his mouth by putting your thumb or finger in the space between the incisors and the molars. Asking a horse to open its mouth by clanking a bit against its front teeth sounds like a good way to make a head shy horse! Once the bit is in place, the presence, absence, or general health of the incisors is irrelevant.
            Click here before you buy.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I guess I should have been clearer... I do insert my thumb into the corner of his mouth to get him to open up, but I also sort of rest the bit between his lips. Not "pushing" on his teeth at all, but just inside his lips, ready for when he opens up. I just worried that this may feel uncomfortable on his gums since his teeth are almost nonexistent.

              Anyway if none of you think the bit situation should be a problem, at least I can be comforted on that issue! Now to only worry about him struggling with grazing and/or eating in general.

              Comment


              • #8
                I have a mare like this, she's only 8 but she's worn the front aspect of her incisors about halfway down the tooth. The collar greatly reduces her grabbing things with her teeth but she still does it - hopefully rarely enough that she's not wearing them faster than she can grow them. She grazes and eats her alfalfa cubes, grass hay, and grain fine - the only issue I've seen is when she hits a particularly hard alfalfa cube, she tries to bite it a couple of times with her incisors and then gives up (at which point I try to put it back further on her tongue so she can GRIND IT WITH HER MOLARS WHICH ARE PERFECTLY FINE). But she's never had a problem with the bit and she's an amazingly efficient grazer. I think as long as he's eating okay, you should be good.

                Comment

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