Helping Others With Equines

Dee Howe

Educational Posts

The Basic Necessities!

Posted by Dee Howe on May 9, 2018 at 5:30 PM

Veterinarians are essential!

Veterinarians are a huge part in diagnosing and treating problems. When in doubt or questions arise please consult one in your area. If their information does not resinate, do not be afraid to get a second opinion. Ideally go by referal.

We recommend consulting your veterinarian before choosing to engage in any type of body work or alternative therapy.

Below I have listed a few general, widely accepted guidelines but you and your veterinarian should determine the best care plan for your individual horse and situation. Location, age, work load, history, breed, etc, can all play a part in determining what each horse needs.

In general, horses should be vaccinated and have their teeth floated every year. This can be accomplished by your veterinarian during a yearly physical. If you own a gelding then you should also ask to have his sheath cleaned.

What is teeth floating?

Unlike people, horses teeth continue to grow for most of their life. A horse grabs it's feed with the front teeth and then it works back to the molars. They have a circular grinding action and the molars gliding and grinding sideways over each other as they eat. This causes hard sharp points to build up on the sides of the molars. In extreme cases there are sores on the inside of the mouth. Floating the teeth entails filing the sharp points off the upper & lower molars on the sides and the front where the bit fits into the horse's mouth.

Recently equine dentistry has made a good impact.   Floating the teeth is one of the least known practiced procedure used by the average horse owner.

The signs are similar to those of a horse with worms but also they will not clean up the stems when you feed hay and grain will fall out of their mouth when it is hard for them to chew. When a horse cannot chew its food properly they don't get all the nutrients from their feed. You can actually check the front part of the molars yourself but most of the problems will be higher up. Be careful when sticking your fingers in the horse's mouth!

This process has also changed dramatically over the years. We used to only worry about the teeth when a horse was 10 years & older. Vets believe that due to the average horse doing less foraging for food and being fed processed and baled feed along with some of the breeding programs, today's horse has softer teeth and need more maintenance. For the first time ever in the spring of 1995, we had to float several 2 year old's teeth. So float the teeth once a year, whether they need it or not, and make sure the vet goes to the back of the molars. Vets that use a speculum that holds the mouth open will be very effective in getting the job done right.

Some horse owners mistakenly believe that you only need to have your horses teeth checked after there is a problem (dropping feed, not eating well, losing weight) but by the time the horse is exhibiting pain in an external way the problem has already been going on for a long time. Depending on your vets recommendations you should have your horses teeth check at least once a year whether you think they need it or not!


Worming is important due to the amount of damage the parasites can do to the animal. Signs to look for in a horse include; a large belly even though the ribs are showing, drop in weight, extra long hair on the neck & belly, rubbing the tail, extra appetite, a dull look to the coat & listless eyes.

Worming horses has changed extremely in the last 10 years. Tube worming used to be popular but is no longer needed with the wormer that is out on the market now. With a foal would use a mild wormer once every 2 months for the first year. For adults, we would worm every 2 months, alternating the acting ingredient used. Because the worms have built up a tolerance to chemicals over the years, what used to be a 1-2 time a year dosage has turned into an every other month ordeal.

Things are continuing to change when it comes to worming practices because they are finding that the parasites are building up a resistance even with a routational schedule. Talk to your vet about performing regular fecal egg count tests and coming up with a parasite prevention program for your horse.

Farrier Care

Without correct angles of the bones through the feet any body work, adjustments or physical therapy that you have done will not be effective or hold long term. Depending on the individual horses needs, hooves will need to be trimmed every 4-8 weeks to acquire & maintain perfect balance for healing. Be sure to use a qualified, well trained farrier who is able to correct problems & keep your horses hooves balanced correctly.

Categories: Basic Care

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