The Ultimate Guide to your Horse's Teeth
It's almost impossible to know what's going in your horse's mouth without the help of an equine dental technician or vet, so this month we're giving you the ultimate guide to your horse's teeth.
We have the help of dental practitioner Johnathan Keen (right)
Why get our horses teeth checked?
Horse's teeth erupt (not grow) constantly throughout their lives at a rate of around 2-3mm each year. They continue to erupt until the age of 18-20 when the process slows or ceases
Horse's teeth act as a self-sharpening mechanism, allowing them to break feed down to an appropriate size for efficient digestion. For this system to work effectively, the rate of eruption should be equal to the rate of wear, which in a natural environment (out in the field on coarse grass) can take place effeciently. However, becuase of the way we keep our horses, this isn't the case. For example, grass in a natural habitat is far more abrasive and higher in silca than the farmed pasture on which we graze our horses, so it's much more difficult for domesticated horses to wear down their teeth as they would in the wild. A combination of soft grass, soft hay and easily broken down hard feed, coupled with the fact we use bits in our horses' mouths, has resulted in the need for regular checks by an equine dental technician or vet.
How often should teeth be checked?
It's recommended that a horse in work and stabled, below the age of 18, is checked every six months. A horse out at grass, such as a brood mare or horses over the age of 18, should be checked every 12 months. As with any other condition, it's important that your horse has his teeth checked if he shows any signs of discomfort or any abnormal behaviour, which could be connected to his mouth.