It’s not uncommon for some people to think my horse is too young to have dental problems and feel it’s not necessary to get their teeth done before mouthing or breaking in, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Just like children horses go through stages of change in their mouths as they grow. They lose their baby teeth or caps and can often suffer more discomfort than older horses when their permanent teeth are coming through.
Benefits of getting your young horses’ teeth done before introducing them to the bit
- Better acceptance of the bit
- Lowers the chance of them developing bad habits such as head throwing, lugging or holding their head to one side, open mouth, tucking their head, or carrying it high all in an effort to avoid the pressure of the bit on any painful areas.
- Accept the contact with the bit better
- Reduce any sharp teeth that may cause pain or discomfort and allow the teeth to wear correctly. Sharp teeth and or caps can cut/lacerate the inside of the cheek when the bit is pulled being painful for the young horse just learning to accept the bit.
- Remove wolf teeth (small tooth that sits just in front of the 1st cheek tooth) they have a nerve supply so therefore can be painful when a bit is placed in the mouth, the bit can easily irritate or loosen the wolf teeth over time and in the worst case cause them to break off. A wolf tooth that hasn’t fully erupted can also still cause problems especially when the bit is pulled during education.
- Eliminate the possibility of the bridle cheek strap pressing against lose caps that may be sore or swollen on the inside of the mouth
- If your horse is pain-free and has a well-balanced mouth they will learn and concentrate better, especially in those important first few weeks of breaking in.
Young horses have a lot of changes going on in their mouth between the ages of 2-4 years, this is when they are shedding their caps and getting their permanent teeth, often it is not easy to see the back teeth when checking your horse’s mouth and problems with the back teeth can often go unnoticed, caps may not come away properly (become retained) and cause the permanent tooth to grow at an incorrect angle, cause compaction of feed or cuts to the mouth. A lot of time and effort has gone into looking after your young horse to this stage of their life when they are finally ready to take the next step of breaking in, so all the more reason to make sure their first introduction to their future education is pain-free and pleasant.
Written by Selena. P