Why does my horse need his/her teeth rasping when horses in the wild cope fine without dentistry?
The main reason is diet. Wild horses graze on far coarser grasses than the domesticated horse, ingesting practically anything. Almost 80% of their diet consists of cord grass, supplemented by thorny stems, twigs, rose hips, seaweeds and even poison ivy depending where the horse lives. This diet alone is enough to wear down the teeth at the rate they were designed. Conversely, the domesticated horse grazes on lush soft pasture and is fed soft hay. This is not what the horse was designed to eat and in consequence teeth wear down at an abnormal rate, giving rise to Common Equine Malocclusions and sharp enamel points, affecting the horses performance and health.
Why do my horses teeth get sharp?
Each of your horses’ teeth comprise of three different densities; enamel, dentin and cementum. Enamel is the most dense of these three materials followed by cementum and then the softest, dentin. Due to this, and that your horses’ teeth wear down at the different rates, enamel sharp edges are left which turn into hooks and make your horse very uncomfortable.
How can I help my horse?
Aside from keeping your horse updated with regular (6-12 months) dentistry examinations, there are a few things you can do to help increase the longevity of your horse’s teeth. Taking the horse out to its natural environment can have big implications, so bringing back some natural ways of living can certainly help.
Many horse owners feed their horses from a height in the stable, using hay nets and feed managers. This is very unnatural, from a dental perspective, because as a horse lowers it head it’s jaw slides forward. As a result your horse’s lower jaw is unable to occlude (meet and grind) against his first upper premolars and last lower molars in a raised position. This can result in large hooks developing on the first upper tooth (6) and the last lower tooth (11) (see diagram). This may put pressure on the TMJ (jaw point) and lock up your horse’s jaw. This could result in weight loss, poor performance and even colic. My advice is to feed your horse from the ground wherever possible as this is how they were designed to eat.
The majority of dental abnormalities are manageable, although not all are curable.