Teeth, Teeth and Floating more Teeth
In the effort to educate about equine care, I felt it was long past time to have an extensive talk about floating horse’s teeth.
This is an often overlooked but vital part of solid horse care.
Folks will say, “I had horses for 20 years and never had it done, and my horse’s weight was good, and there have been no issues,” but time and time again, when a speculum is placed in the mouth for the first time, we hear about how shocked people become to see hooks, ulcers, broken teeth and more.
Horses in our care receive unnatural diets of hay and grain. They wear bits and eat from different positions depending on where they feed pans are. They receive different minerals. Their water isn’t found in rivers and springs, as as rule. They aren’t wandering miles each day with natural instincts about what native plants they need to eat to have the best chance of survival. Further, Mustangs do not live nearly as long as domesticated horses for various reasons, this being one of them.
Yearly checks of your horses teeth by a qualified equine dentist is really so important. I cannot stress this enough. Many vets have little training in dental care unless they opted for continuing education. We’ve had horrible messes created in mouths of rescues and personal horses by allowing unqualified vets to float teeth.
Age has NOTHING to do with when teeth need done. I personally learned this the hard way by waiting more than a year between checks on my own Arabian mare. She wasn’t being ridden, came to me at age 2. She had never been a rescue, and she has no conformation defects in her mouth. She was young, so I didn’t have the teeth looked at until she was 4. She was floated then. I waited a few more years because. . .I thought, “She is young, not ridden and well cared for without obvious signs of issues.” When I sent her into training, I wanted her teeth done because she would now be wearing a bit. Her teeth had to be done 3 TIMES in one year to get them corrected at only age 7! She suddenly became a much easier keeper, as well. It is embarrassing to admit I USED TO BELIEVE the main reason to do teeth were in rescue cases, ages horses, horses under saddle with bit interaction and horses showing any signs of issues.
That SIMPLY isn’t true.
You horse can be young, showing you no signs of problems and have a decent weight and still have teeth in need of care yearly.
As horses age, floating can be needed MUCH more frequently. We have rescues who comes in that need 4 floats in a year to get their teeth back to normal and will need floats every 3-6 months for the rest of their lives (typically horses ages 18-30). Yet, if you keep up with their teeth from a young age, you likely will never run into that type of extensive need, thankfully.
Every single HOP horse is floated as soon as possible upon coming to us. We’ve seen hundreds of mouths up close and personal. We’ve seen bloody mouths with ulcers and hooks and points that would make you cry on young horses, yet until you got into there with a speculum, you simply would not know because the horse learned to deal with the pain.
You cannot truly see the whole picture by opening your own horses mouth unless you have a speculum and are able to put your hands back to the very last molars and feel around.
Floats cost between $20 and $200 dollars depending on where you are, what tools are used, the sedation required and various other factors, but please try your best to have teeth checked yearly.
It is very rare we open a horse’s mouth, rescue or personal, that we find teeth do not need done after 12 months.
Power float video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pc93xx7fzNg
Hand float video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmZp32OEmB0
Excellent resource website