Monday, April 9, 2012

Delighted with Pie! and Some Important Dental News

The true test of softness from the inside is whether it sticks - if you take a horse to a new location or put them in new circumstances, does the horse stay soft and responsive or do they worry, fret and even lose their minds?  Yesterday, Pie passed the test.  Less than two days after I moved him to the new barn, I rode him in the big indoor, and he was great - he was better than great.  This isn't because he's dull, or quiet - it's because he's soft from the inside and confident, and willing to listen to and follow my direction.  Now, part of the job was mine - to give him clear and confident direction and to ride him in a way that asked for softness - using his body correctly and with forward - and attention from the first step.

I led him around and had a couple of boarders open and close the big overhead door while we were walking - he looked but wasn't particularly worried as long since I led deliberately and with intention - I didn't care about the doors and so he didn't either. I lunged him briefly to see what I had, and he was listening well.  We did walk and trot work, with changes of direction, all over the indoor arena.  He was completely good with that, and I asked for and got the same quality of gaits that I want under saddle.

Then I mounted up - he stood like a rock on a loose rein.  We worked on walk and trot, and on forward and softness, and he did really, really well - I might as well have been riding in Wisconsin.  I worked on giving him direction with every step - he did look at things but kept right on working.  After we were done, I took him for 30 minutes of hand grazing, which he enjoyed.  I couldn't have been more delighted!

Then I groomed and got Dawn ready.  She didn't look too bad coming in from turnout - she was walking well with a nice overstep.  Since she'd felt so unsteady the day before - she's just had her third day of treatment for EPM with Oroquin-10 - I didn't ride her but for a moment, but yesterday I put her on the lunge to see what we had.  It seemed slightly better - she did occasionally drag her right hind toe and she did trip with that foot once, but she seemed willing to move.  So I mounted up and rode her on a loose rein for about 15 minutes, encouraging her to stretch down.  She felt slightly better than the day before, but unsteady enough that I didn't think trotting under saddle was such a good idea.

Today our wonderful equine dentist, Mike Fragale, came to work on Dawn and Pie.   Pie and I had a nice groundwork session before he came.  Dawn walked in from turnout with a more definite step, which was encouraging.

Pie's dental work went smoothly - all of his teeth are now fully erupted.  He needed a bit of work on his incisors, and some work on the backs as well, and tartar removed from his canines.  But when Mike worked on Dawn, there were some big things wrong that may explain why she has been having such trouble eating and has lost so much weight.  She had vertical, front to back, fractures of two lower molars, and some food was wedged into the gaps between the pieces - ouch!  No wonder she wasn't eating well, or that Banamine made it easier for her to eat.  Dawn has had fractured molars before - two - and Mike had to remove a big piece of one about a year and a half ago.  There's always a risk when removing parts of fractured teeth that the remaining tooth and/or related soft tissue may become infected - last time Mike removed part of a fractured tooth she healed up just fine and we're hoping for that result this time.  He was able to remove all the loose pieces, and Dawn will be on antibiotics (Uniprim) for two weeks to help prevent infection.  I'll be keeping a close eye on her and also smelling her mouth once a day to detect any infection that may start.  If she does develop a problem, dental surgery is an option - there is a very good veterinary dental surgeon near us who is able to do complete extractions through the mouth cavity without damaging the adjacent teeth - not surgically from the outside - and not using general anesthesia.  But for now, we're hoping she'll not need that.

Here's the result of Mike's work on Dawn - two fragments are from one tooth and the other is from the second tooth (that weird line across the middle is a Blogger problem):

It's hard to say why Dawn keeps fracturing teeth.  She's not eating off the ground in a rocky environment.  It could be that the shape of her upper dental arcades - they aren't straight, likely due to prior poor dental care, and that may be putting extra pressure on her lower molars - all the fractures are on the bottom jaw.  This shape problem can't be instantly remedied.  Also, if she had been over-floated in the past - which she has been - that can damage the part of the tooth that senses pressure, causing her to put too much pressure on her teeth when she chews.  We don't know - we just hope she'll stop doing it.

Dawn gets no hay or grain tonight and no grain tomorrow morning, to allow the tissues to start to heal without food getting in there.  I'll be going back this evening to give her her meds - the Uniprim, some Banamine and also her Oroquin-10 for the EPM - and to give Pie his hay.  We're taking her off the UlcerGard for now, as it may well be that she doesn't need it and it may interfere with the EPM meds.  We'll see what we see, but I'm encouraged.  Poor Dawn mare . . .


  1. Poor Dawn! It's not easy to eat when your teeth hurt. And having it compounded by her other problem, I feel sorry for her. Hope she heals quickly and gets back to her old self.

    Saint Pie is fitting in nicely at the new place. Glad he's retaining his training with you and Heather from Wisconsin. He's such a great horse.

  2. Poor Dawn is right. I hope she's feeling better, and able to eat normally asap! You had such good progress going with her. :)

    Our natural balance dentist K. came today too. All the way out in the middle of nowhere. We just love her - the humans and the equines.

    Don't know if I told you this before Kate, but I found her through your posts about Mike. I called him to see if he came to my area, and he recommended her to me.

    We're so pleased. Our previous dentist lost his temper and hit a horse - my boarder - while I was holding for him. He also way over medicated the horse, and when the horse got reactionary, he told me to "ear" him - which I refused to do.

    It ended up that he held the horse and I finished the last filing as the horse didn't object to me with the tools. I swore he'd never come on my farm again.

    Sorry for the long story, but I wanted you to know how appreciative I am that we could find a kind, talented practitioner of this enlightened form of dentistry.

    Val, Cowboy and Honey Bee thank you!

    1. So glad Mike was able to get you someone good - I know other people have called him and had the same result.

  3. I agree with your definition of true softness, and it sounds like Pie definitely has it. I bet he's a lot of fun to ride.

  4. Poor Dawn! So glad it was her teeth causing her weight loss, and that's behind her now. Hope she feels much better soon.

  5. Good for Pie. He certainly seems to have settled down and that "softness" you tell us about is perfect proof. I expect you are going to have a lot of fun riding him now.

    Poor Dawn, indeed. I would think those teeth would explain a lot. How awful it must have been for her trying to eat. Thank goodness she is in your hands, where such things are well taken care of. Once again, I am sending her hugs. Hope she feels better soon.

  6. Pie is something! As for Dawn's seems that you have really hit on something. Hopefully it will get her back to normal.

  7. Poor Dawn. Must have been painful for her. Hope all goes with her.
    Sounds like Pie is doing so well. That is just fantastic!

  8. yay for Pies and you ! sounds wonderful .Poor dawn hope she is feeling better soon

  9. Ouch! I'm glad you found out about Dawn's tooth issues. Hopefully she'll be right as rain and not need further dental work.

  10. We had a senior horse who fractured a lower tooth and he would get hay impacted in there. Our equine dentist suggested that I rinse twice daily with alcohol free Listerine diluted with water. (1:4) I'd mix up about a cup of that and use an old Banamine syringe to squirt the mixture in alongside the bottom teeth. He actually seemed to like it and it helped a lot! We eventually were able to drop it to once a day, then once every other day or so.

  11. Glad to hear that Pie is settling right in and you are having great rides all ready!

    Poor Dawn - no wonder eating was painful! Good thing you had the vet/dentist out! There are just so many things to look for in horses... In the past 2 weeks I've learned about 4 new illnesses/problems that I've never heard about before!

  12. I totally agree, poor Dawn, no wonder she was losing weight and not always thrilled about eating. Whenever I go through all of the dental files for the horses here, a pattern that always stands out is the "dentally challenged" group here always seems to be comprised of thoroughbreds (of course not all of them). I've often wondered why.


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