Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Balance Starts In A Horse's Mouth-More From The Equine Wellness Symposium"

Howdy Folks,

We all know the importance of taking care of our horses' teeth and are sure to have our veterinarian or equine dentist visit annually. This weekend at the Equine Wellness Symposium one of the presenters was Equine Dentist Jamie Colder and some of the things he discussed in his presentation are too important not to share.

We talk about balance in our horse's body and feet, and Jamie explained that balance cannot be achieved if there are issues in the teeth. Jamie discussed so much important information, much more than we can fit into a blog post, but I learned a few tips on Saturday that I just had to share here.

A horse has a very long jaw and things out of order there get magnified by the movement of that long jaw. A horse is designed to chew by moving their mouth side to side and if they have misaligned teeth, or a hook (a tall tooth in the rear) they will "lift" their mouth open to avoid it when they chew. This causes muscles in the head and neck to strengthen to accommodate this abnormal motion. This also causes tightness in the neck and shoulder making it difficult for the horse to turn into it. This single long tooth begins to set up a cascade of compensation that travels through the horse. Can even cause the feet to become out of balance. Jamie practices "Whole Horse Denistry."

Jamie gave us lots of great tips on how we might see little signs that send signals we should address. One of course is if your horse has a tighter side than the other, turning difficulties going one way. And yes there are many reasons for this, but one just could be in the mouth. Or start there. He gave us a neat way to look for that "hook" tooth issue.

Lift your horse's forelock and study the top of her forehead. I certainly do not remember the names of the muscles up there, but study the forehead just below the base of her forelock, the big flat area, and look for muscling there. There really should be none, her forehead should be flat. If you see muscles your horse is "lifting" her mouth to chew to avoid the long tooth, or "hook" … Then if you look closely you will see one side has more muscle than the other. That's the side of the hook tooth. These muscles only develop when the horse must lift to chew.

On Sunday I was doing a private session at the Symposium of "Release and Relax" exercises and as I went along relieving tightness I got to the "Cheek Wiggle" exercise. That's when you lightly rest one hand on the nose bridge, and with your fingertips of your other hand, gently hold the bottom of the check bone and very gently wiggle it. This releases the cheek, neck and poll. A nifty exercises. When I attempted the wiggle I noticed the mare's jaw was ridged. Locked. This exercise will release, and it did, but now armed with the new information I'd just learned from Jamie, I knew I must look farther.

Patrick King of, Patrick King Horsemanship, was with us at the time, and together we lifted the mare's forelock and had a close look at her forehead. Sure enough she had the tell-tale muscles just below the base of her forelock and the left side, the side of the "locked" cheekbone, was a larger muscle than the right! Discovering that allows the horse owner to fix something that may have gone unnoticed. You can easily check your own horse just by studying her forehead and looking for those muscles.

But let me share one other quick test Jamie taught us, that you can do to check for balance. Look at your horse's incisor teeth. Study the teeth, mouth closed, and look at the very center two teeth. Look at the space between them. The top and bottom space between the center incisors should line up perfectly. If they do not something is off and you need your dentist. Patrick and I looked at the mare's incisors I was working on and her spaces did not line up, indicating even with her mouth closed her jaw was cocked to accommodate the hook tooth in the rear. And remember a horse's jaw is long. Think of the pressure and negative energy being sent through the body.

And yes as soon as I got home Sunday night I did both these tests on Kessy, and am happy to report all is well.

I hope you will have a look at your horse's forehead and incisors. It's easy to do and your horse will thank you! Thanks again Patti Jo Duda for organizing this Wellness Symposium!

You can find Patrick King here on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/patrick.king.946?fref=ts  
 He can put you in touch with Jamie if you have more questions and you should get to know Patrick anyway... I'm sorry I don't have a link for Jamie ...

Learn more  about "Whole Horse Dentistry" Here- http://www.advancedwholehorsedentistry.com/

Gitty Up ~ Dutch Henry


  1. This is extremely interesting, thanks, Dutch!

    1. It is an important topic, Robynne ... Thanks for reading!

  2. Wow, I never knew! Thank you for telling me that. I believe Maximus' teeth come together in the front perfectly but I'll have to look at his forehead. Amazing information, Dutch.

    1. Thank you, Patti!!! And Maximus thanks you too!

  3. Not many folks take the time to consider the comfort of a horses mouth. Thanks for crystallizing the benifits they are missing.