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Hoof and Teeth Care

Hints & Tips

Maintaining your horse's hooves and teeth properly will reduce the risk of any infections or problems. Regular hoof and teeth care will ensure that they remain healthy and strong, as well as being happier too.

Hooves

Hooves should be trimmed and balanced by a registered farrier every four to six weeks for shod horses, and every six to ten weeks for unshod horses. Regularly picking out the feet will remove all debris from the hooves, reducing the risk of anything sharp being stuck and piercing the sole of your horse's foot.

Keeping the stable clean will also maintain a dry foot reducing the risk of getting an infection such as thrush in the frog area of the hooves.

Different supplements can provide certain additives that will help reduce the amount of cracking in the dry hoof walls; your farrier can advise you on what the best product to use would be.

Teeth

Regular dental care is essential for healthy teeth and gums, and will ensure that your horse is able to chew food properly, and allow them to be more comfortable when using a bit and rein while being ridden.

There are two main types of teeth in a horse's mouth – the incisors, which are the cutting teeth, and the molars, which are the grinding teeth. The incisors are located at the front of the mouth and the molars are towards the back. Teeth gradually erupt, in response to wear, throughout your horse's life.

The way the teeth wear down can sometimes be uneven, and it is good to check the teeth to see that they are not cutting into your horse's mouth or tongue. Rasping or filing these protrusions is essential, and this can be carried out by a veterinary surgeon or a British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) approved dental technician.

Here are signs of possible dental problems, which could also be a sign of other illness:

  • Lack of appetite or reluctance to eat.
  • Drooling saliva, or a discharge from the mouth or nose.
  • Sores and swellings around the mouth.
  • Pain or swellings in the throat and along the jaw-line.
  • Foul smelling breath.
  • Loss of body condition.
  • Chewing more slowly than normal or favouring one side of the mouth.
  • Spilling food from the mouth or deliberately dropping (quidding) balls of partially chewed food.
  • Aggression or reluctance to be bridled.
  • Resisting the bit.
  • Head shaking.
  • Reluctance to move forward when being ridden.
  • Rearing or bolting.