January 22, 2011

Floating and Gelding

Tooth floating in horses simply put is sanding down the rough edges of a horses teeth.  Horses teeth continually grow throughout their lifetime and being domesticated they don't grind on grass and forage as much as they would in the wild, therefore their teeth don't wear in quite the same way as wild horses.  The lower teeth tend to get sharp edges on the inside, near the tongue and the upper teeth tend to get sharp edges on the outside near the cheek.  This can be an issue since it can cause painful sores and then of course an unhappy mouth can cause bitting issues.  It's best to have your horses mouth checked out once a year and depending on the horse any dental care or floating that occurs will be based on their needs.  Young horses, like any baby animals, can have baby teeth still present when the adult on erupts and therefore need the baby tooth removed to allow the adult teeth to come into the correct position. 

Legs is so sweet as he has his heart checked...he is so cute!

Horse skull showing the wolf teeth and the "gap" area for the bit

Another thing that horses can have are what is called "wolf teeth".  In a horses mouth there are the front teeth (incisors) that tear off the bits of grass and then the back teeth which are the molars that grind the grass.  In between the front and back teeth there is a gap with no teeth present, this conveniently allows a bit to rest across the tongue and be used to transmit aids in the form of pressure to the side of the mouth, tongue and bars (lower gum line on the jaw) of the mouth.  While having teeth floated it's also a good time to remove these wolf teeth that sit right in front of the back molars, where the bit would sit.  It interferes with the bit and can often get broken by the bit which, I'm assuming, would be a more expensive dental cost to remove a broken wolf tooth.  Not all horses develop a wolf tooth and they appear at different ages.

Pstar nose, you can barely see the wolf tooth but it's right in front of the molars

The process was pretty simple.  A halter with a lower cushioned bumper is hung from a rafter in the ceiling so the horses head can be held up at the proper height.  Each horse is sedated, placed in the halter and then a mouth speculum (I looked up the term, I knew it reminded me of the gynecologist!!) it used to open the horses mouth.  Then the vet uses a drill looking tool that has a circular rasping plate on the end.  Then it's just like sanding wood in a sense!

The speculum (shutter...)
The rasping tool (more shutters...)

The victim (shutter...poor Legs!)

The tooth pulling meant that local injections of anesthetic were administered.  Some of the wolf teeth were tiny, others were huge...Pstar had pretty big ones removed.  I wonder if that means she has the spirit of the wolf in her...one who is social and loyal...yep that sounds like Pstar!  LOL.

All in all it went pretty quick and it's a necessary maintenance, same as humans going to the dentist.  The poor babies though!  At least they were sedated for it!  I wish I could be whenever I go in for just my cleanings!

Next it was Eksodus's turn.  He's just  yearling who will turn two in July I think.  I hadn't seen him up close in a while, he's almost as big as Pstar is and she's 4 going on 5!  What a handsome boy!  Since he's still pretty young the vet thought it best just to check his teeth since he still had a lot of baby teeth.  His wolf teeth would be removed but the main job today was gelding (castration).  I've seen castrations before in Leesburg, VA back in 2000 when I worked as a tech in an equine operating room one summer.  Usually the castrations were older horses.  I guess doing it in the OR, instead of doing it in the field, was because of the amount of fat and size of the vans deferens. 

Handsome boy!

Eksodus was sedated, then given another shot that made him even more sedated to the point where he plopped onto the ground.  The vet moved him to a safe location and cushioned his "fall" by holding his head up and then helping him roll down onto his side.  It was pretty much the same procedure as in the OR just not with the nice cushioned walls that you wedge the horse in between or with the cool hydraulic table.  It was quick and easy though.  Make an incision, pull out one testicle, cut the vans deferens and clamp for a few minutes, pull out the next one and do the same.  Then the doctor tidied the area up so fat and other skin wouldn't hang out of the wound.  It's left open to drain, and the swelling that will then happen helps to close up the wound.  I don't remember if they stitched it up in the OR or not but in the field since it's not sterile it's best not to sew up the area.  Esksodus then had his wolf teeth removed.  Shortly after, he started to get up, he layed on his belly for a little while before fully standing and then was led to stall for 24 hour stall rest with two weeks of hand trotting exercise.  It will be interesting to see how Eksodus is as a gelding, hopefully he won't be as nippy with me!  He'll be three next year, still very young and compared to Pstar it would be hard to think of buying a three year old I couldn't ride when I could buy and be riding Pstar.  2012 is far away, yet very close....must keep my head in the debt reduction game (aka Project Buy a Pony!)

An iodine scrub to clean the area

Eksodus: "Yikes, that was a horrible dream I just had!"

I was so happy that Laurie let me come out to witness all of this!  As a future horse owner I want to soak up as much information as I can to learn about the proper care of horses.  I subscribe to Dressage Today, Practical Horseman, Equus and now as a member of the Arabian Horse Association I will be getting their Modern Arabian magazine.  Each horse magazine has articles on behavior, training and care of the horse but nothing beats seeing things firsthand!  Thanks Laurie!  Hope the horses are feeling better after their dental appointments, reminds me I need to get my Jack Russell in for his!

So I'll end this post with a cute pic of Pstar.  Awe!

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