A Visit from the Tooth Fairy- Tips on Horse care

I recently wrote about an equine dentist that came to see my horses. She is a wealth of knowledge and is so willing to share. Some interesting tips that she shared with me:

-She uses a chamomile blend to soothe the horses rather than sedate them. She left me a jar so I could also work with the horses and calm them if needed. She has used this in emergencies situations with equine, and it works just as well as a minor sedative. I could not believe that my horses let her hand float their teeth with an herbal sedative.

- If you look at your horses forehead, and see that one side is a bit bigger, swollenn, more built up than the other, you know your horse is uneven and needs his teeth looked at. It is similar to our jaw bones, if you chew on one side for a long time you will have uneven muscle tone. The same goes for uses, but it the muscles its right under the forelock, if you look carefully, you will see a difference. Not only does this affect their chewing, but their entire body. My horse was chewing with his left side, I noticed months ago that he leaned to the left, held his head to the left when we were going in a straight line and never bent to the right. Hopefully getting his teeth done, will help bring him back into balance! The tooth fairy promised that in 60 days he will gain weight and be more balanced. He is 12 and never had his teeth done.

- Alkaline water. She uses alkaline water to hydrate them. She pours a gallon over the back of a colicking horse, and puts it in frisbees for the horses to absorb through their hooves. I am aware of the benefits of alkaline water in people, but never considered it in horses.

-All natural apple cider vinegar. She also puts this in frisbees for the horses to stand in. It helps release toxins from their legs and feet.

- for deworming, she uses Diatomaceous earth. She dusts the horses with it and also mixes it with beet pulp for horses to ingest. She warned that it is like chards of glass string, so it needs to be added to a liquid when ingested, and dusted only on their back area, not their face where the skin is sensitive. For canines, she combines wormwood oil and walnut oil with a sprinkle of diatomaceous earth.

- Her take on alfalfa. She believes that alfalfa is a hay for cattle with four stomachs and should not be used on equine. It often causes intestinal stones which can kill a horse.
"Under certain conditions, the elements magnesium, ammonium, & phosphate crystallize in the hindgut to form intestinal stones. More common shapes are spherical & tetrahedral.
Dietary factors that contribute to the formation of intestinal stones include: high levels of protein (nitrogen) intake, high levels of magnesium intake, more alkaline pH in the hindgut, and the presence of a nidus (matrix for the stone to form).

West Coast horses have been more likely to develop intestinal stones compared to other regions in the United States. 
Alfalfa hay grown in the southwestern U.S. contributes a dietary excess of magnesium, nitrogen & 
calcium to the diet; phosphorus content in alfalfa is modest; the excess calcium acts as a buffer thus contributes to higher pH levels in the hindgut.
Alfalfa is a major contributor of the elements that form intestinal stones. Nevertheless most horses fed alfalfa do not have problems with intestinal stones"

Loren Hardie, the tooth fairy, recommended, to put weight on your horse, be sure they have good dental health. Then offer them two large scoops of beet pulp, soaked, with a cup of rice bran. She also said that you can add your pelleted feed as well, but remember that is not a natural food for your horse. Once your horse is in a healthy condition with good teeth, the weight gain will follow.

- The best exercises to help your horse with regards to chiropractics:
-  Belly lifts: Goose the horses belly so it causes them to lift their back. Five times on each side.
-  Backing the horse will help build those hind quarter muscles. The horse learns to use its front end and disengage its hindquarters, so lots of backing when on the ground, and then work on backing when mounted. She added that when she had a major accident, she walked backwards to help her build her strength back up and regain balance, etc.  You want to be sure that when you back your horse, he is using his hind end and picking up his feet rather than sluggishly dragging his front feet. Backing has many benefits, it is great for training, gaining control, trust and muscle.
- Getting them to pop their hind end. Standing directly behind the horse take two pens, one in each hand and run it from where the back of the saddle hits down each side of the spine until you are on either side of the tail. Do it quickly and with minimal pressure. This will cause the horse to pop its own back.
- Tail Lift: After a long ride the horses hind end will be stiff, gently lift his tail straight up in the air and move it side to side, this will help him relax his hind end.
- Clavicle Massage: Massaged right down his clavicle muscle to relieve tension and make him feel good. When he licks his lips and sighs, you know you are doing it right and he is happy and relaxed.

How teeth affect the entire horse

Today I had the opportunity to meet with a renowned equine dentist who does so much more. She imparted an overwhelming amount of knowledge on me, and I want to share what I learned.
She arrived and immediately assessed my rescue gelding. She explained that he was a little thin and had a behavior issue (we were fully aware of this- in fact we have tried a Panacea power pack, over feeding, chiropractics, and cold laser therapy to address these issues, in addition to a visit from the vet).

She took a look in his mouth and explained that his canines were covered in a tartar ball. This can lead to severe decay and even tooth loss. She went on to explain how the horse chews and digests in a very different way than what I had considered. She explained that a horse eats a piece of hay, and it gets cut up six times based on how the horse articulates its jaw as it chews in a circular motion (causing hooks). They basically finely chop the hay, the more they chew it. Also, the horse uses a different grinding stroke when eating oats. The chewing pattern changes with each type of food. The food is mixed with saliva which contains two ingredients, that help to launch the digestive process. The first is bicarbonate, which buffers and protects against amino acids in the stomach. It also contains small amounts of the enzyme amylase, which assists with carbohydrate digestion. Once the food is ground up into smaller particles by the molars, it is swallowed and travels down the esophagus which is 50 to 60 inches in length, to the stomach.

Equine gastrointestinal tract diagramThe horses stomach is very small compared to the size of the animal and makes up only about 10% of the digestive system. It can vary in size from about 8 to 16 quarts, and functions best when it is about 3/4 full. Food passes through the stomach relatively quickly, about 15 minutes, where it is mixed with pepsin, an enzyme used to digest protein and hydrochloric acid to help break down particles. Very little fermentation should happen in the stomach, as this will cause gas, and result in color. One the food passes through the sacks caucus, tunic region and pyloric, it moves to the small intestine, at this point, fermentation has ceased and protein digestion increases. It is in the small intestine where serious digestive processes take place. The intestine secretes enzymes in addition to the enzymes secreted by the pancreas to break down proteins into amino acids. Some of this is absorbed into the bloodstream and the rest moves to the large intestine which has 5 basic parts. The key part being the cecum (see-kum) which is about four feet long and one foot in diameter. The cecum can hold 8-10 gallons of food and water, and this this is where undigested food from the small intestine, such as hay and grass, is broken down and fermented. The food enters and exits the cecum on the same manner, think of a fermentation vat. If the horses id dehydrated, impaction can occur at the lower end of the cecum, causing colic. Food remains in the cecum for up to 7 hours allowing the bacteria and microbes to do their jobs, resulting in vitamins and fatty acids which are absorbed into the cecum.

"The microbial populations within the cecum become specific for digestion of the type of food that the horse normally ingests. It's very important to change a horse's diet gradually in order to give the microbes an opportunity to adjust, which could take several weeks."

The remnants from the cecum travel to the large colon, where microbial digestion continues, and a lots of the nutrients, mostly b-vitamins, minerals and phosphorus, are absorbed. This is where a twisted gut occurs as well. The late colon has a right and left ventral colons and a dorsal colon. The ventral colons consist of a series of pouches, which can become twisted and fill with gas during the fermentation process. Next the food moves to the small colon, at this point all, nearly all of the nutrients have been digested, and the remnants will be stripped of moisture which is absorbed back into the body. During that process, fecal balls are formed which are passed through the rectum and out of the anus. So there you have it, start to finish, and why teeth affect the entire digestive systemm of a horse.