To start…let me just say in my own defense, I have always considered it important to see to it that my horse’s teeth are taken care of on a regular basis. I have had Biasini for almost two years now and his teeth have been checked and floated every six months. So that’s my defense. Now on to why that may not be enough for some horses and why the choice of equine dentist is an important one.
In the past few weeks Biasini started to display some different reactions in the double bridle. He got his tongue over the bit a couple of times and in a lesson last week he did it three times in one lesson. Also on examination Lynsey Rowan, (my coach Belinda Trussell’s assistant) found he was very sensitive in the TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint) on the left. On the right he was fine. Also I found that he was very tight at the poll and when I massaged this area he dropped his head, almost closed his eyes and seemed to really appreciate my efforts to loosen that area.
Putting all of these things together it seemed clear that something might not be right in his mouth. Belinda suggested I get him to see equine dentist Kevin Rundle. Kevin has been an equine dentist for 28 years and he holds the highest certification available from the International Association of Equine Dentistry: Certified Advanced Examiner. Luckily Lynsey was able to get me a cancellation appointment and on Friday May 6 Biasini and I went to see him.
When he examined Biasini he asked me several questions about how Biasini would react to certain things. How did he react when being brought to a halt from trot or canter? How does he react when on the left rein on a circle? Kevin then pointed out several things about Biasini’s mouth and teeth alignment and the positions of hooks and sharp edges in his mouth. He asked me if I knew he had an overbite. In an attempt at humor I said I was aware of that but I had been unable to find an equine orthodontist! Kevin pointed out that since horse’s teeth continue to grow until 18 -21 years of age this problem could be helped without having to wear orthodontic braces.
Biasini had some hooks on the left side of his mouth that were preventing him from being able to move the jaw from side to side. On the lower jaw he had one tooth at the very back of his mouth with a large hook that was pressing up into the gum at the top of his upper jaw. On the right side he had one sharp edge that was rubbing the side of his tongue. His canine teeth were both too long and rather sharp. He had callouses on both sides at the bottom of his jaw just in front of the start of the molars. Kevin explained this was due to the movement of the bit in his mouth. The problem here is that a wolf tooth nerve will work its way up into the callous and that can be very painful. So those callouses had to be removed.
So after the vet that Kevin works with had sedated Biasini he started to work on correcting these problems. He told me he was happy to have me take photos as he wants to pass on this knowledge, especially to veterinarians.
He started with the incisors and then moved on to working on the left side of Biasini’s mouth. After this he gave Biasini a short break and the assistant lowered his head.
During the break I was able to take a photo of the remarkable collection of drills Kevin uses. “Take a photo of that.” Kevin said. “ People say to me …’don’t you need just one drill’?”
As I watched him work on the other parts of Biasini’s mouth, the canines, the hook at the very back of the bottom left and the sharp edge on the right I could see that each area needed a different sort of drill.
At the end everything looked much better. Biasini was given some Banamine as Kevin feels that having the jaw opened for the dental work can make it sore just as it would for a human having dental work. He told me it would take several days to see how Biasini reacted to the work and to notice improvement. He also told me he would be coming to Belinda’s Oakcrest Farm in June and would like to see the bits I use and also would like to see me ride. It would be five or six months before Biasini would need a rebalance and maintenance.
Finally he told me to syringe 3cc of glycerine into each side of Biasini’s mouth once I had the bit in his mouth before riding. This can help the skin where the bit sits to not get damaged. I was given a diagram of the work that had been done with the original problems marked and how they had been corrected.
I have ridden Biasini twice since the work was done and already I can see an improvement as he is now much easier to flex to the left. I will try the double bridle next week and see how that goes.