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Your horse lives under conditions quite different from those found in the wild. Three artificial conditions which impact your horse's mouth most are:

  • He lives inside of a fenced area.
  • Most of his diet is made up of processed feeds (grain and hay).
  • He is not able to graze outside twelve hours or more per day.

Radio-tracking studies of mustangs show that the animals travel an average of thirty to forty miles per day throughout the year. They do this as a natural consequence of their search for food and water. The impact of fences (confinement) on domestic horses has often been documented -- for example, on stress levels, on the condition of their feet and legs, and on parasite loads. Fences enclosing groups of horses often create "dry lot" conditions under which there is little or no plant material available to graze. This makes feeding hay and grain necessary.

How does this impact your horse's teeth?
Although processed feeds still give your horse's cheek grinders a workout, he does not nip these foods before bringing them into his mouth.

  • Over time, this results in failutre of the horse's incisors to keep pace in wear with the cheek teeth. The incisors become so long that they partially or totally prevent the cheek teeth from touching. This in turn makes it impossible for your horse to chew his food properly. And that, in turn, can be some really horrific consequences, including:
The effects
  • Temporo-mandibular (TM or jaw joint) pain, causing horse to be difficult or unsteady on the bit.
  • Various forms of "snaggletoothed" or "wavy" mouth, causing uneven chewing pressure and the development of sharp "hooks" at the fore and aft ends of the cheek tooth batteries. "Hooks" can eventually become so long that they gouge the gum above or below, creating abscesses and pain which can in turn cause the horse to stiffen its neck or cock its head when ridden or driven.
  • Sharp "points" on the inner and outer edges of the cheek teeth. Points cause cheek and tongue abrasions, and again the tendency to fight the bit.
  • Failure to properly grind food, resulting in significant waste of food, and more seriously, in increases in the frequency of colic. (In order for horses to absorb water and nutrients in the gut, a "mush" of chopped grass blades must be continually present there, not long unchewed stems balled up like twine).

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The information and illustrations in this section are kindly provided by the Canadian Equine Dental Consultants and the American Equine Dental Consultants. For further information please visit their website - click here
Canadian Equine Dental Consultants Canadian Equine Dental Consultants
American Equine Dental Consultants
American Equine Dental Consultants