This past week we had the vet out to float Lou Dillon’s teeth. Unlike human teeth, horses’ teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetime. In the wild, horses are constantly eating, and that wears them down evenly. Unfortunately, in captive situations, such as keeping horses in stalls or dry paddocks, even though the horses get enough food to keep their weight up (or even get fat!), they don’t eat long enough to adequately wear their teeth. Their teeth will get wavy, or their teeth can get sharp points or hooks that can dig into the side of the horses’ mouth. When horses lose a tooth on the top or the bottom of their mouths, the other tooth can grow very long because there isn’t another tooth to wear against it, leading to isues as well. The vets come out every six months to a year to “float” the teeth, which means filing down the sharp edges and the waves in order to ensure that the teeth are flat against each other, which allows the horse to adequately masticate his food.
The vet checked Lou Dillon’s teeth and discovered that they had not been floated in a very long time; his teeth had waves, hooks, points, and he was missing a few teeth, so the vet had to do quite a bit. She didn’t want to overwhelm him, so we did what we could to ensure that he could chew, and filed all of the areas that were causing him pain. He had ulcers in his mouth, which will heal now that the teeth are no longer constantly scraping and irritating him.
Lou Dillon did very well during the float, and we put him in the round pen until the effects of the sedation wore off. He ate his hay and his grain that night with gusto, probably because there wasn’t any pain, and he will be able to get more calories out of his food now that his teeth wear evenly.