The Age Factor
The age of a horse affects the degree of attention and frequency of dental care required.
Consider these points:
- Horses going into training for the first time, especially two and three-year-olds, need a comprehensive dental check-up. Teeth should be floated to remove any sharp points and checked for retained caps. Caps should be removed if they have not been shed. This should be done before training begins to prevent training problems related to sharp teeth.
- Even yearlings have been found to have enamel points sharp enough to damage cheek and tongue tissue. Floating may improve feed efficiency and make them more comfortable.
- Horses aged two to five may require more frequent dental exams than older horses. Deciduous teeth tend to be softer than permanent teeth and may develop sharp enamel points more quickly. Also, there is an extraordinary amount of dental maturation during this period. Twenty-four teeth will be shed and replaced during this time, with the potential for twelve to sixteen teeth to be erupting simultaneously.
- Even the best dental program may not be able to solve or alleviate all of a young horse’s teething discomfort.
- It is important to maintain an even bite plane during a horse’s middle teens in order to ensure a level grinding surface into its twenties. If you wait until the horse is in its twenties, the surfaces may be worn excessively and/or unevenly, and since the teeth are no longer erupting at this age, alignment may be impossible.