1. Balanced Diet
Horse teeth erupt throughout their lifetime. A diet consisting of good quality forage, supplementing only what is missing from pasture/hay, will meet their nutritional requirements. Feeding roughage - pasture and hay will allow teeth to wear correctly. Horses pluck with their incisors and then grind with their molars. Horses are designed to eat from the ground. Eating from fence feeders or haynets will change the angle that the horse is grinding feed. Horses that eat mostly upright will need more frequent dental visits.
2. Signs of Discomfort
Some indicators that teeth need attention are horses chomping rather than grinding feed, dropping feed, and long strands of grass or hay in manure. Horses that chomp rather than grind will have more prominent muscles on their forehead, rather than their cheeks. Quidding (storing a patch of grass in the cheek), or bad breath are clear signs that teeth need attention.
3. Assess Body Condition
Monitoring your horse's body condition is important to ensure they're receiving the right amount of feed. This can change rapidly with the seasons, the quality of your pasture and dental health. We encourage owners to take photos of their horse/s at least once a month and keep note of the feed at the time so you have a record of what feed combination gives the best results, and any rapid changes which may indicate it's time for the dentist.
4. Regular Dental Care
Dental health plays a significant role in a horse's ability to properly chew and digest food.
We encourage horse owners to use different dentists from time to time. In our experience, some dentists will pick up a dental problem the previous dentist may have missed.
5. Feeding the Older Horse
What do you do when an older horse has spent incisors or missing molars? We are fortunate to have two geriatric horses in their mid-thirties. While they do graze, we supply all of their calories in feed. They receive soy bean meal, oats, linseed, soy hulls and copra meal (as well as their supplements) in a very wet mash over two meals. Our preference would be to also use beet pulp (Speedibeet) but it is too expensive at the moment. The amount of mash varies based on their body condition. We also give them good quality straight lucerne hay throughout the day. They will sift out the leaf first, and not eat the longest stalks, which we then rake up and use as mulch around our trees or in our vegie garden.
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