Monday, April 9, 2012

Delighted with Pie! and Some Important Dental News

The true test of softness from the inside is whether it sticks - if you take a horse to a new location or put them in new circumstances, does the horse stay soft and responsive or do they worry, fret and even lose their minds?  Yesterday, Pie passed the test.  Less than two days after I moved him to the new barn, I rode him in the big indoor, and he was great - he was better than great.  This isn't because he's dull, or quiet - it's because he's soft from the inside and confident, and willing to listen to and follow my direction.  Now, part of the job was mine - to give him clear and confident direction and to ride him in a way that asked for softness - using his body correctly and with forward - and attention from the first step.

I led him around and had a couple of boarders open and close the big overhead door while we were walking - he looked but wasn't particularly worried as long since I led deliberately and with intention - I didn't care about the doors and so he didn't either. I lunged him briefly to see what I had, and he was listening well.  We did walk and trot work, with changes of direction, all over the indoor arena.  He was completely good with that, and I asked for and got the same quality of gaits that I want under saddle.

Then I mounted up - he stood like a rock on a loose rein.  We worked on walk and trot, and on forward and softness, and he did really, really well - I might as well have been riding in Wisconsin.  I worked on giving him direction with every step - he did look at things but kept right on working.  After we were done, I took him for 30 minutes of hand grazing, which he enjoyed.  I couldn't have been more delighted!

Then I groomed and got Dawn ready.  She didn't look too bad coming in from turnout - she was walking well with a nice overstep.  Since she'd felt so unsteady the day before - she's just had her third day of treatment for EPM with Oroquin-10 - I didn't ride her but for a moment, but yesterday I put her on the lunge to see what we had.  It seemed slightly better - she did occasionally drag her right hind toe and she did trip with that foot once, but she seemed willing to move.  So I mounted up and rode her on a loose rein for about 15 minutes, encouraging her to stretch down.  She felt slightly better than the day before, but unsteady enough that I didn't think trotting under saddle was such a good idea.

Today our wonderful equine dentist, Mike Fragale, came to work on Dawn and Pie.   Pie and I had a nice groundwork session before he came.  Dawn walked in from turnout with a more definite step, which was encouraging.

Pie's dental work went smoothly - all of his teeth are now fully erupted.  He needed a bit of work on his incisors, and some work on the backs as well, and tartar removed from his canines.  But when Mike worked on Dawn, there were some big things wrong that may explain why she has been having such trouble eating and has lost so much weight.  She had vertical, front to back, fractures of two lower molars, and some food was wedged into the gaps between the pieces - ouch!  No wonder she wasn't eating well, or that Banamine made it easier for her to eat.  Dawn has had fractured molars before - two - and Mike had to remove a big piece of one about a year and a half ago.  There's always a risk when removing parts of fractured teeth that the remaining tooth and/or related soft tissue may become infected - last time Mike removed part of a fractured tooth she healed up just fine and we're hoping for that result this time.  He was able to remove all the loose pieces, and Dawn will be on antibiotics (Uniprim) for two weeks to help prevent infection.  I'll be keeping a close eye on her and also smelling her mouth once a day to detect any infection that may start.  If she does develop a problem, dental surgery is an option - there is a very good veterinary dental surgeon near us who is able to do complete extractions through the mouth cavity without damaging the adjacent teeth - not surgically from the outside - and not using general anesthesia.  But for now, we're hoping she'll not need that.

Here's the result of Mike's work on Dawn - two fragments are from one tooth and the other is from the second tooth (that weird line across the middle is a Blogger problem):

It's hard to say why Dawn keeps fracturing teeth.  She's not eating off the ground in a rocky environment.  It could be that the shape of her upper dental arcades - they aren't straight, likely due to prior poor dental care, and that may be putting extra pressure on her lower molars - all the fractures are on the bottom jaw.  This shape problem can't be instantly remedied.  Also, if she had been over-floated in the past - which she has been - that can damage the part of the tooth that senses pressure, causing her to put too much pressure on her teeth when she chews.  We don't know - we just hope she'll stop doing it.

Dawn gets no hay or grain tonight and no grain tomorrow morning, to allow the tissues to start to heal without food getting in there.  I'll be going back this evening to give her her meds - the Uniprim, some Banamine and also her Oroquin-10 for the EPM - and to give Pie his hay.  We're taking her off the UlcerGard for now, as it may well be that she doesn't need it and it may interfere with the EPM meds.  We'll see what we see, but I'm encouraged.  Poor Dawn mare . . .

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