|Don't listen to her. I am perfect.|
I am sure that you have heard the expression "no foot, no horse." Anyone who has owned, ridden, or worked with horses for any amount of time will no doubt agree. I have friends whose horses have foot issues, and more than a couple of them have drooled over Harley's nice set. But fear not, dear readers, there is balance in this world. Harley does have his own physical dilemma. I have joked with Harley's original trimmer that "my horse's foot problem is a tooth problem." Harley's major maintenance challenge is his teeth.
I would like to add a new expression here:
"No tooth, no horse."
Harley has an overbite. He needs braces. Big time. Harley's condition is considered a conformational flaw and is called "parrot mouth". This is somewhat amusing to me, since I live with four parrots who possess their own "parrot mouths". But in all seriousness, parrot mouth is no laughing matter. When I purchased Harley, I was aware of his dental condition and willing to assume the responsibility of caring for his very special (expensive) mouth. There were so many other wonderful qualities about him, which easily overshadowed his dental handicap. Let us not forget that one can search forever and never find a flawless horse. I accepted the bad with the good.
Now, you may have seen an overbite on a horse before. You may have visions of what this looks like. So just let me add a few details:
1) I am not going to post pictures of Harley's condition. It is bad enough that I do not want to see pictures of his mouth showing up all over the internet as ridiculously, horrible horse dentition. I also feel like it would be kind of mean of me to publish his worst quality for the world to see.
2) Two dentists have described his teeth as "the worst overbite I have worked with". Although since then, Harley's dentist told me that he did see a more severe case. Yikes!
3) Harley has had not one, but two incisor reductions. Which means that I have paid for two incisor reductions. Specialty horse shoes, anyone?
4) Mt. Everest-sized hooks were removed from his upper front molars (a three-hour procedure without a speculum or power tools) and a few years later he had good-sized hooks removed from his rear lower molars (this time with a speculum and power tools, which was much faster and less stressful). The upper hooks were so large that they were interfering with the bit, which was a serious safety hazard, not to mention the impact it had on his ability to eat properly. Since I bought him in December, I had the dentist out as soon as possible and then he promptly told me that he would have to return with specialized tools. Harley's first Christmas present was upper hook removal. Not very exciting, but definitely necessary. Merry Christmas!
Good News on the dental front (pun intended)!
Harley's latest dental appointment, on the first of December, revealed that his teeth are maintaining! This means that he is not redeveloping hooks and his lower incisors are not assaulting his palate! The dentist explained that this wonderful news indicates that we have finally caught up to the years of minimal (no) dental care from before he was my Boy and his mealtime routine of only eating from the ground (dinner and hay) is keeping his genetic predisposition for hooks at bay. A round of high fives are in order, as this type of success is thanks to the combined efforts of Harley's dentist and caregivers!
His overbite will never go away, and he will need special attention as long as he has teeth, but it is worth mentioning that all horses can suffer from hooks and malocclusions if their teeth are not properly floated and evaluated on an annual or semiannual basis. I am proud to announce that Harley has graduated to yearly appointments! I am relieved.
Now, back to our regularly scheduled hoof trim...
|Right front, 2 days post-trim: My camera was having some trouble in Harley's shadow. The outside bar is still a work in progress, as are the outside bars on the hind feet. Just trimming and waiting.|
|Left front, 2 days post-trim: There was a little bit of chalky sole in both fronts. The bars on this foot are looking straight with an open central sulcus.|
|Right hind: Before trim|
|Right hind: After trim. The white line was super tight all the way around the hoof. All four of his feet had a nice, healthy connection. I am hoping that this is more magnesium magic.|
|Left hind: Before trim|
|Left hind: After trim. This hoof was equally nice. If you compare the frog to the summer pictures, the asymmetrical groove (thrush of some kind) is gone. Harley, would you like some hoof with that frog?|
I try my utmost not to take Harley's positive genetic traits for granted. Combating a genetic defect, like his overbite, is no simple matter. I am very grateful that he has inherited healthy feet, as any predisposition to physical problems is draining for horse and owner on a number of levels. All one can do is take advantage of the resources at hand, educate oneself, and make the horse's well-being the first priority.
|Thankfully, Harley is able to maintain decent condition, despite his dental handicap and his high metabolism.|
|My barn owner says that he copes with his disability very well, always picking up dropped grain and taking his dear, sweet time eating his meals (20 minutes!). |
He is no less cute with his flaws.