What happens to horses in the wild?
Why do we Perform Dentistry on our Horses? What Happens to Horses in the Wild?
We perform dentistry on our horses for several reasons; to allow efficient and pain free chewing of feed; to allow for pain free contact on the bit; to identify and correct dental disease; for prevention of colic in older animals.
In order for the hind gut to efficiently digest feed, the length of fibre the horse is swallowing needs to be reduced down to around 1cm. This allows for efficient digestion by bacteria in the hind gut. You can monitor the chewing efficiency of your own horses by looking at their dung and measuring the length of fibre within it.
So what about wild horses? When we examine the bodies of deceased wild horses we make several interesting findings. Firstly, they are not living as long as our pleasure horses. Secondly, they often have multiple areas of dental disease. Finally, they have often died of colic. So while a wild horse can exist happily for a period of time without dental care, poor dental health can be linked to their shorter life span (as it can in humans, cats and dogs too). We must also consider that wild horses are not carrying the weight of a rider and are not being fitted with bits and bridles. Ridden work and the use of bits and bridles create pressure on the face, poll and mouth that can then exacerbate dental pain.
A study undertaken by a large surgical hospital in Newmarket in the UK found that between 60-70% of surgical impaction colics admitted to the hospital were the result of bad dentition. Separate studies have found that 70% of horses under 12 years of age will have dental disease that is not outwardly obvious. This increases to 90% of horses above 12 years of age.
This poor mare below named Whiskey had never had any dental treatment prior to my visit. As a result, she had multiple dental issues that have lead to a decline in her general health, she now appears to be far older than 11. People often ask me what happens to horses in the wild? This is the result, declining health at an earlier age!
This mare had very sharp enamel overgrowths causing injuries to the sensitive tissue in in her mouth along with painful food packing. See pictures below. Most of what she was eating either dropped on the ground or passed out the other end undigested. While there is still work do be done she is a far happier horse and her ability to eat has improved no end. Within 24 hours there was no more painful food packing and her attentive Owner reported that she was like a new horse.
Once her condition has improved we will extract the tooth causing the discharging hole (see picture below) on her face and she will be as good as new.
Im so pleased that this lovely mare has found such a caring and loving home with her dedicated new Owner.