Gayle Smith
Potter, Neb.

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August 8, 2011
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Horse Not Performing Well? Check its Teeth

The horse was an offspring of one of the most famous speed sires in the United States, yet it ended up a 4-H project for a beginning barrel racer in Nebraska. It failed on the racetrack. It failed as a barrel horse. In fact, the horse that started out worth thousands of dollars and held so much promise, was sold to the 4-H member for a few hundred dollars.

It was during a routine check floating its teeth that Dr. Cory Reng noticed something peculiar in the horse's mouth. "There was a wolf tooth fragment in there," Reng said. "I pulled it out, and now the horse is becoming a barrel racing contender. The horse that was virtually worthless may now be a gold mine for this little 4-Her."

Reng is a veterinarian, a graduate of the American School of Equine Dentistry, and a professor at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. She spoke about the importance of equine dentistry during the recent Big Wyoming Horse Expo.

As Reng talked about the importance of dental check-ups for horses, she emphasized that not all performance issues are the result of problems in the mouth. "The purpose of a bit is to allow you to communicate with your horse," she explained. "If the bit is not working, you need to find out why."

The wolf teeth, which come in at about six to nine months of age, are located in front of the molars. Reng said in some horses, the wolf teeth don't come in exactly where they are supposed to, and may need to be pulled to prevent future problems.

Some horses also have canine teeth, which are considered the fighting teeth. Although they are typically seen in Quarter Horses, and more in stallions and geldings, Reng said it is not considered abnormal for a mare to also have canine teeth. "It is important not to pick the bit you will finish a horse with until you know for sure if it has canine teeth. It is not so much a bit issue, but an adjustment issue," she explained.

She cautioned against pulling the canine teeth unless it is necessary, because it can be major surgery.

The horse was an offspring of one of the most famous speed sires in the United States, yet it ended up a 4-H project for a beginning barrel racer in Nebraska. It failed on the racetrack. It failed as a barrel horse. In fact, the horse that started out worth thousands of dollars and held so much promise, was sold to the 4-H member for a few hundred dollars.

It was during a routine check floating its teeth that Dr. Cory Reng noticed something peculiar in the horse's mouth. "There was a wolf tooth fragment in there," Reng said. "I pulled it out, and now the horse is becoming a barrel racing contender. The horse that was virtually worthless may now be a gold mine for this little 4-Her."

Reng is a veterinarian, a graduate of the American School of Equine Dentistry, and a professor at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. She spoke about the importance of equine dentistry during the recent Big Wyoming Horse Expo.

As Reng talked about the importance of dental check-ups for horses, she emphasized that not all performance issues are the result of problems in the mouth. "The purpose of a bit is to allow you to communicate with your horse," she explained. "If the bit is not working, you need to find out why."

The wolf teeth, which come in at about six to nine months of age, are located in front of the molars. Reng said in some horses, the wolf teeth don't come in exactly where they are supposed to, and may need to be pulled to prevent future problems.

Some horses also have canine teeth, which are considered the fighting teeth. Although they are typically seen in Quarter Horses, and more in stallions and geldings, Reng said it is not considered abnormal for a mare to also have canine teeth. "It is important not to pick the bit you will finish a horse with until you know for sure if it has canine teeth. It is not so much a bit issue, but an adjustment issue," she explained.

She cautioned against pulling the canine teeth unless it is necessary, because it can be major surgery.

The horse was an offspring of one of the most famous speed sires in the United States, yet it ended up a 4-H project for a beginning barrel racer in Nebraska. It failed on the racetrack. It failed as a barrel horse. In fact, the horse that started out worth thousands of dollars and held so much promise, was sold to the 4-H member for a few hundred dollars.

It was during a routine check floating its teeth that Dr. Cory Reng noticed something peculiar in the horse's mouth. "There was a wolf tooth fragment in there," Reng said. "I pulled it out, and now the horse is becoming a barrel racing contender. The horse that was virtually worthless may now be a gold mine for this little 4-Her."

Reng is a veterinarian, a graduate of the American School of Equine Dentistry, and a professor at the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. She spoke about the importance of equine dentistry during the recent Big Wyoming Horse Expo.

As Reng talked about the importance of dental check-ups for horses, she emphasized that not all performance issues are the result of problems in the mouth. "The purpose of a bit is to allow you to communicate with your horse," she explained. "If the bit is not working, you need to find out why."

The wolf teeth, which come in at about six to nine months of age, are located in front of the molars. Reng said in some horses, the wolf teeth don't come in exactly where they are supposed to, and may need to be pulled to prevent future problems.

Some horses also have canine teeth, which are considered the fighting teeth. Although they are typically seen in Quarter Horses, and more in stallions and geldings, Reng said it is not considered abnormal for a mare to also have canine teeth. "It is important not to pick the bit you will finish a horse with until you know for sure if it has canine teeth. It is not so much a bit issue, but an adjustment issue," she explained.

She cautioned against pulling the canine teeth unless it is necessary, because it can be major surgery.


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The Fence Post Updated Aug 14, 2012 05:10PM Published Aug 8, 2011 10:11PM Copyright 2011 The Fence Post. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.